Visualizing group sizes and inter-group flows

A few weeks ago, I came across the following graphics on Twitter: They depict voter share per party (including absentees, in grey) (top) and voter flows between different parties in the 2015 cantonal elections in Zurich. The graphics are produced by sotomo, a research company at the nexus of science and practical application occupying itself with political and … Continue reading Visualizing group sizes and inter-group flows

Conceptualisation of a D3 linked view with a hexagonal cartogram

Some weeks ago I visualised the Swiss cantons (states) and their population numbers using what information visualization scientists call a linked view. You can click through to the actual, interactive visualization: here in German or here in French. In what follows I want to give a bit more detail about what led to this visualization and what conceptual thinking went into the design.

In a subsequent post I will also describe the toolset I used to produce this visualization, so that you can build your own. If you’re not interested in the Background, you can skip to the Conceptually section. If that’s neither your cup of tea and you’re here primarily because you want to know how to produce such a visualization yourself, you’ll unfortunately have to patience yourself and wait for the second part of this series.



Why population sizes matter – in such a small country

Why is the particular piece of information that is visualised here important or interesting? Well, in the Swiss political system cantons are represented at the federal level, whereas cities aren’t. However, some of the big cities represent a considerably larger number of people than quite some of the smaller cantons. There have been many debates if and how cities ought to be represented in the political system, about the specificity of urban issues and how those are dealt with or ignored in Swiss politics and if weighting of the cantons should be adapted to better match their population size. The issue crops up both in relation to elections and polls (Switzerland having a direct democracy there are really many of the latter).

Cartogram on Swiss TV
Cartogram on Swiss TV

When I published the visualization Switzerland has just held such a poll. The poll did not pass, it achieved only 54.3% of “yes” votes.

– Wait, what? Yep, the vote won a solid majority of the people, but too many cantons said “nay” and thus, by the rules, it was a “nay”.  Now, one can argue that this is not sensible or that it is perfectly sensible, I’m not going to do this here. But this background means, to my pleasure, that the visualisation was able to spark and inform many discussions (and met quite an audience). To my big surprise, it was even briefly featured in nation-wide primetime news, in a slightly reworked version. Continue reading “Conceptualisation of a D3 linked view with a hexagonal cartogram”

Skobbler’s OSM map

Skobbler produces apps and maps based on OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. Under they’ve released an OSM-based map. I’ve always had mixed feelings about how OSM presented their map online. While I like the project very much and on and off use OSM data in my projects, I don’t like many things about the visual style both of … Continue reading Skobbler’s OSM map

Google+ manifests new approach to Google interface design

The net is abuzz with the news about Google+, Google’s newest attempt to counter Facebook’s dominance in the realm of social networks. Besides India and Brasil, where Google’s Orkut seems popular, the search engine giant has so far failed to successfully enter the social network ground.

"On one hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch. On the other hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch!" (by xkcd)

Currently, Google+ is invite-only, so no hands-on testing. But what can be said already from one of the teaser videos is that the visual design of the newest Google product deviates somewhat from what we are acquainted with out of the Googleplex. Engadget has collected numerous trailers highlighting Google+ features, the one in question is The Google+ project: A quick look, embedded below: Continue reading “Google+ manifests new approach to Google interface design”