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Final results that were published in the newspaper.

When working at the graphics desk at Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, I was tasked to analyse all kinds of trends around one theme: How did the U.S. change after the first year of president Donald J. Trump.

On top of covering the ‘usual subjects’ like approval ratings, unemployment rates, GDP growth, the world’s trust in U.S. president and the arrests of illegal immigrants, I did a Trump Tweet analysis. I wondered, when did he tweet as a president, as a candidate and as a businessman before his political career. I also analysed his most used word pairs as president.

My workflow was the following: In the data analysis language R I created an app or dashboard if you will (I link to this in a minute). …


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On Twitter, I stumbled upon this horrendous 3D bar chart. When looking at the data, it might have been made in 2005. Data visualisation as a skill was yet to be defined. Boy, we have come a long way, but this was even at the time truly bananas.

Normally I describe in detail about what improvements can be made, this time I trust my audience to recognise the many pitfalls. I will however explain my redesign choices after the visual.

Watch out though, PhillipDRiggs warns you in his tweet for “post-traumatic viz syndrome”.


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During the 60’s until 1975 the United States sent a lot of troops to Vietnam. They dropped thousands of bombs and sprayed with the infamous horrifying napalm with thousands of civilian victims as a result. But when the Pew Research Center published the annual Global Attitudes & Trends report of 2017, Vietnam came on top with the most positive view towards the U.S.

(This article is a follow up to How the world sees the U.S.A. after Trump)

How come you ask? I contacted Dr John Kleinen from the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. …


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After a survey, the Pew Research Center came to a conclusion: U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership. In 37 countries the question was asked if they had confidence in the US president regarding world affairs. A staggering low median of 22% was the outcome. In contrast, Obama scored a 67% in his first year.

Now, correlation isn’t causation, and we can’t say at all that the president is the only factor responsible for the image of the U.S.
It is however interesting to see how the image of the U.S. …


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The Dutch Talkshow Jinek fell into the trap of showing a 3D bar graph from the exit poll of the UK elections May 2017. Numerous times TV shows are proving that their graphic designers don’t have a clue what they’re doing when it comes to communicating data.

Every information designer/data journalist/graphic reporter/visual journalist will tell you that most 3D charts are hard to interpret. They unnecessarily distort the data and lack clarity. See for yourself:


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Tweeted on June 3th

To me, it almost looks like there’s no human involved making the much-needed design decisions, so I decided to contact the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

I asked them about their process, and they answered that they use Highcharts for their graphs with a specific style guide. Most of the time the editors of the posts are responsible for the design of the charts.

I already redesigned one of their charts in this Data Visualisation Redesigned for the Better series. The CBS editors don’t seem to think a lot about how the information is communicated best in their charts. …


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As a cure for unpalatable side effects when seeing a crappy graph I reshape them in something better. Sometimes there are those who shamelessly deceive, with or without intention. Swindling with axes, mixing correlation with causation, skewed means etc.. And sometimes people use charts, maps or graphics to make a point without thinking about how these visualisations represent the underlying data.

But most of the time I’m just baffled about what’s happening in a visualisation that’s designed badly. It can sometimes take ages to finally grasp the information. …


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Tweeted on: May 11th

The Dutch love avocado. Newspaper Trouw published an article where they showed from which countries the Netherlands imported the green super food. In 2016, the Netherlands imported a staggering amount of 433 million kilos. That’s a record. Four out of five imported avocado are for the rest of Europe.

Their infographic was an attempt to inform the public through a 3D pie chart with the shape of an avocado 😅. The problem is that our brain isn’t competent reading degree angles in values. To make it even harder use 3d effects while getting distracted by the shape of the fruit itself. …


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Right: Trump in the oval office showing an election map to journalists. | Photo by CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

But he won’t because he loves it too much. When Trump invited some reporters to talk about his 100 days in office, he handed out an election map with the results of 2016. According to Reuters accompanied with the words:

Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers, It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.

The president is known for following the news thoroughly. His poor approval ratings are nothing new for him. He doesn’t like that at all. To me, this seems yet another childish attempt to exaggerate his legitimacy.


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A graphics iteration process.

In the Netherlands tensions between different groups of the population is a rising hot topic. To name a few that support this trend:

  • The Dutch elections: where popular populist and politician Geert Wilders used a repeatedly polarising rhetoric.
  • The refugee challenge Europe copes with. This results in (un)conscious racism that puts pressure on ‘the Dutch identity’ when dealing with the integration of refugees.
  • The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan who tried to expand its power with a referendum. …

About

Thomas de Beus

Using #ddj 👨‍💻 to help tighten the gap between reality and peoples’ perception of reality to spark ⚡️ conscious citizenship 🏛 for a better shared future 🌍

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