Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Inaugural Graphic - Length, Words, Great Interactive Visuals

My last post talked about the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I'm taking now on Data Exploration and Storytelling.  Below is an example of a pretty spectacular example of taking data and presenting it in a relatively easy to use graphic.  It's a Google undertaking.   I'm not sure how critical the content is, but I foresee media doing this sort of thing on state or municipal budgets, crime statistics, proposed legislation, etc. that makes it much easier for citizens to get better way to understand important public policy issues.

Alberto Cairo, one of the instructors in the my class, was an advisor to this graphic that compares the eleven most searched presidents' inaugural addresses.

It's highly interactive and you can see each use of a particular key word, including the sentence it is in.

The five categories of words (and five diagrams) include:
  • Politics (Words:  Justice, Constitution, Democracy, President of the US, Communism, Republic, US Congress)
  • Finance (Tax, Money, Commerce, Economy)
  • Emotions & Human Traits (Love, Happiness, Dignity, Courage, Sacrifice, Compassion, Loyalty, Patriotism, Morality)
  • Spirit and Mind (Bible, God, Spirit, Soul, Destiny, Prayer, Faith, Truth, Wisdom, Conscience)
  • Society (Liberty, Hero, Freedom, Crime, Revolution, Peace, Promise, Wealth, Poverty, Hatred, Common Good)  
Guess who used the word 'wealth' more than anyone else.

Below is a screenshot, which doesn't have the interactivity of the original.  But click on the image to go to the original.

You can see the total length of the speech by how far down it goes. Each bar or rectangle represents a sentence and your cursor can pop up each sentence.

The dots represent each time the president used one of the word listed above. Yellow shows the word that is highlighted - in this screenshot, it's the word democracy. You'll notice that Trump didn't use any of these words - but neither did Lincoln, Kennedy, or Nixon. For the screenshot, I highlighted one of the first Bush's use of the word Democracy.

As I said in yesterday's post, readers have to be vigilant, perhaps even more vigilant, of graphics like this.  There's always the danger that the cool factor will depress people's attention to design or factual issues.  People need to understand the assumptions of the graphic makers.  In this case the creators explain their decisions:
  • "we picked the presidents based on the most searched presidents on Google since 2004"
  • Our analysis of a selection of historical inauguration speeches allowed us to extract the most common subjects mentioned in speeches. 
  • Subjects that were at least mentioned 4 times overall were selected. 
  • These subjects are organized by theme, and 
  • by comparing them with average search interest from Google search data in 2016, you can explore if these subjects are still searched for today."
There are lots of decisions that have to be made and that could effect the comparisons.  Perhaps picking presidents who came into offie under similar economic or war conditions as Trump would have made more sense.  But determining that would also involve lots of decisions.

And there's an assumption that all this is accurate.  But the website (before the Society chart) says:
"Contrary to other recent Presidents, President Trump does not mention the word Freedom."
Well, that's not exactly true.  Trump said,
". . . we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag."
I'm not sure how long this took to prepare and how many people were involved.  There's a brief overview at Alberto Cairo's blog, where I learned about it.  

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