Visualizing #NICAR18, Part II

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I posted recently about the NICAR journalism conference, held this year in Chicago — and it turns out news nerds like to tweet.

To keep track of all the conference chatter, I dumped each mention of the #NICAR18 hashtag using Python, eventually collecting some 4,100 tweets.

I used #nicar18 several times. Others were even more prolific. Here are those with more than 10 uses during the conference:

Next, I created a histogram with average #nicar18 tweet counts by hour for the three full days: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It shows when people sent the most tweets — and that they apparently took more breaks during lunch and just before the first afternoon sessions began.

The pattern is also clear here in a more granular view of daily tweet counts by hour:

This tweet volume, which only captures people tweeting with the hashtag, was posted by attendees from across the globe. This year’s conference, as I mentioned in the previous post, had record-breaking attendance: more than 1,200.

Here’s where the attendees came from:

These types of maps are imperfect, of course, especially on mobile. For one, it’s tough to decipher attendance from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Here’s a more focused version (still a little nuclear blasty), if that helps (please note that the scale is different from the map above):

See you next year, NICARians!

Charting North Korean Provocations. A Case of ‘The Mondays’?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea

As a newspaper reporter living in South Korea, I’m always aware that a “provocation” by our friends in the North — a missile launch, a nuclear test, or some other incident — could occur on any day.

A recent missile launch came on a Sunday morning, for example, disrupting our family plans. (That’s part of the job, of course).

But which days have been more likely for provocations, I wondered? Thanks to a handy database from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, we now know.

Since 2001, North Korean leaders seem to prefer … Mondays?

The trend is clear in the data: Compared with any other day, provocations have been twice as common on the first work day of the week.

The data also reveal some interesting tidbits about the North’s provocations. Thanks to a recent surge in missile tests, the number of provocations has increased substantially under the new leader, Kim Jong Un, who took power in late December 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il:

The Center categorizes the provocations by type, too (though I broke our “exchange of fire” incidents from “Other” in the data):

And here you can see the interest in missile tests. Roughly half of all provocations since 2001 have been missile launches or tests (again, propelled in part by Kim Jong Un’s recent interest):

You can explore the Center’s great work here.

Charting American Birthdays: Yours Probably Isn’t That Special

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Policy & Politics

Last week I published a new heatmap exploring the popularity of American birthdays. The chart, which uses darker shades to represent higher average birth counts on specific days, can give the impression that some birthdays are much more common than others.

In reality, outside of some special occasions, namely major holidays, there isn’t a huge amount of diversity in the data set, which has two decades of births aggregated by day. Most birthdays, including my own, are fairly average — especially in the first six months of the year. For example:

Charting Taiwan’s Low Birth Rate, Aging Population

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

I’m in Taiwan this month to study Mandarin. During breaks, I’ll be posting occasionally about the island nation’s demographics, politics and (sticky) weather.

Like other East Asian democracies, such as South Korea and Japan, Taiwan has a rapidly aging population, posing demographic and economic challenges for policy makers.

One reason for the age increase is that Taiwan has among the lowest birth rates in the world. These charts highlight the trend.

Charting New York City’s Changing Borough Population, Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

I woke one recent morning at 5 a.m. obsessing about, of all things, the people of New York City — specifically how the population is distributed among the five boroughs: Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. And how that’s changed over time.

I had a general idea. But my nerd brain needed to know for sure. So I went to Wikipedia for data. These charts show the total population, by borough, since 1790.

This chart shows how the proportion of New York City residents in each borough has shifted over time. Decades ago, Manhattan was the center of population. Not anymore, of course:

Editing O.J. Simpson: Charting Changes to His Wikipedia Page

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, Sports

I’ve just finished watching ESPN’s fabulous O.J.: Made in America, a five-part documentary about the Hall of Fame football player.

Somewhere in the process of digesting this latest — and, perhaps, best — telling of O.J.’s story, I scoured Wikipedia for details about his life. I discovered that the page has been edited more than 4,000 times since it went up in 2003, back when Wikipedia user “Vera Cruz” posted the first biographical snippet.

Since then, users have slowly edited — and vandalized — the current bio’s 5,000 words, a process I’ve charted below.

Charting Baby Gender, Birth Date

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

My wife and I had friends over last night, and we asked 20* of them to guess a few critical stats about our impending baby (among the reasons this blog hasn’t exactly been “daily” lately).

Here’s how they guessed on birth date (the official due date is Sept. 24):

They were split on gender (we’re waiting for the surprise):

The average guess on weight was 7 lbs, 7 ounces, btw.

We removed one friend’s entry because, frankly, 27 pounds is an outlier.

Charting SCOTUS Decisions Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release rulings on key cases over the next week, including the much-awaited decision on the Affordable Care Act.

The court has seen its workload decrease over the last 50 years. Last year, for example, the court issued just 71 rulings, the fewest since at least 1946, the earliest date in the Supreme Court Database. (It decided 197 cases in 1967). This chart shows the trend over time:


Charting Post Offices

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The U.S. Postal Service is still struggling to compete in an era of declining paper mail, and as private industry and Congress have resisted its efforts to reform, according to this story in today’s The New York Times.

The agency’s troubles, which could result in the closing of thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail processing centers as early as next month, have many sources. Some are the inevitable result of technological changes, and others are the result of missteps by the Postal Service.

But top Postal Service officials and outside experts say that another, underappreciated factor has been an insistence by Congress that the service not compete directly with private companies, even as companies like FedEx and U.P.S. have encroached on the Postal Service’s turf.

This chart shows the historic growth, and recent decline, in the number of post offices:

See larger version | Data source: USPS