Visualizing the News Nerd Conference Known as #NICAR18

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I’m in the United States this week to attend the annual news nerd conference known as NICAR, a diverse gathering of reporters, editors and developers (and others) focused on storytelling with data.

I look forward to it like Christmas.

I get to return to the United States, see old friends, learn new skills and drink Diet Coke, which is nearly impossible to find in South Korea, where I work as a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

These basic graphics help explain the event, held this year in Chicago.

First, there’s record-breaking attendance* this year:

The event has more than 200 sessions over five days, from the basic use of spreadsheets in news gathering to the construction of complex news applications — and the organizers (who graciously share data about the conference) categorized them by type:

The conference generally has a mix of skills sets and expertise levels, which is evident in the session categories:

There are people here from almost every American state and from numerous countries around the world. My jet lag brain is still working through how to best visualize that, perhaps in a map. I’ll post something soon.

Image courtesy Allen McGregor via Wikipedia Commons.

South Korea’s (Residential) Rise: How Building Heights, Home Sizes Vary

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I never lived in a high-rise building before moving to South Korea, but now home is 35 stories above central Seoul. The view is pretty great — when, of course, it isn’t obscured by pollution.

I’m just one of about 10 million Seoul residents in a geographic footprint the size of Chicago, so high-rise residential seems normal. How common is it, though, and how has that changed over time? These charts attempt to answer.

Charting Olympics Participation

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Sports

The summer Olympics begin in just over two weeks. The quadrennial event has continued to grow over the years, with more than 200 countries and 10,000 athletes competing in 2008. Here’s how participation has changed over time:

As the event continues to grow, women are being included at higher rates. The last time the Olympics were held in London, about 10 percent of participants were female. In 2008, they made up more than 40 percent. Here’s the trend over time:

Source: Sports Reference LLC

How Common Is Your Birthday? Pt. 2.

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

Last weekend’s birthday heatmap post has been hugely popular by The Daily Viz standards, drawing in more than 100,000 readers and tons of social media attention. While I’m excited about the traffic, I’m also worried that the graphic may have misled some readers.

Some people read the map assuming that darker shades represented higher numbers of actual births, even though I tried to explain in the post that the colors were shaded by birthday rank, from 1 to 366, in popularity. Or I thought I did. Because of that, Sept. 16 — the most popular birthday — seems wildly more common than January 1, among the least popular. Both may be relatively close in the raw number of births, even though their ranks are far apart.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to acquire a list of all dates and total births for each. But last night I compiled a decade’s worth of nationwide birth data by month. Those data show that August, in fact, saw the most births during the 10-year period. Each month is over 3.1 million births, however:

August, of course, has an extra day for potential births, so I created an average births by month field. Viewed that way, September did have more births relative to its size. But notice there isn’t much difference between months in the distribution of the births. Alas, all our birthdays are probably pretty normal:

I should note that this blog is a place for me to experiment with visualization techniques in my own time, and I will occasionally make bad design choices or produce work that is less useful to some. This is one of those times, I suppose. Thanks to Dan DeFelippiWaldo Jaquith and several others who prompted this post. Download the data if you want to create your own visualizations.

Data source: Centers for Disease Control, National Vital Statistics Reports