The Art of Transforming Data into Great Stories

What happened last week in the world of data visualization? This category provides you with remarkable visualizations – they can be remarkably beautiful, remarkably interactive or just remarkably interesting. Visualizations differ on so many levels, and so does their content. Let’s take a look at what week #6 brought us.


Beating the Record

Brace yourself, winter is coming. Or is it not? We – the human race and everything else alive – have experienced an all-time record year in terms of high temperatures. Regardless whether believe in global warming or not, this Bloomberg visualization clearly shows, that the temperature has changed distinctively in the last decades.

The Bloomberg visualization “2015 Was the Hottest Year on Record” couldn’t be more simple and more clear. It consists of classic line charts representing the average temperature of land and sea for every month since 1880 in a (slightly speedy) animation overlay. By just observing the changes for a couple of seconds, it becomes undeniable that it is getting warmer and warmer on this planet. Especially the last decades have seen one record after another. The animation could do well with a pause button – but then again: Climate change doesn’t pause either (if we don’t do something about it).

record year temperature

Anonymity Made Transparent

It feels like no week passes without a data-driven-story on a map. This week an somewhat nerdy topic made it in this seminal election. Even though TorFlow has been around for a couple of weeks already, the American Wired magazine just brought attention to it last week.

Tor is a tool/network enabling anonymous communication online; know to many through Edward Snowden, who also used it. Due to the nature of Tor, it is difficult to say how much data is actually routed from where to where. But Tor is surprisingly transparent, allowing FlowTow to turn all the anonymity into an impressive visualisation. The map models the information flow between relay servers for a selected time. Thus, the user cannot only see between which regions connections are found but also how they change over time. For instance, in the U.S. a shift from the West to the East Coast is observable.

The map looks quite fancy and nerdy at the same time and offers a lot of possibilites to adjust it. It is very well developed and once you make yourself familiar with the Tor project and its techniques, the visualization gets understandable and interpretable. If it’s not at your interest at all, you can still lean back and enjoy the lightning dots flowing across the map.



Japanese Consumption

According to Yasufumi Saito, personal consumption is the engine of the Japanese economy, accounting for 60% of its GDP. Therefore, the Journalist created a heatmap that recaps the development of personal consumption in Japan over the last 30 years.

The visualization shows how high the personal consumption was based on data of the official Japanese Statistic Bureau. Saito also added filters, allowing the readers to discover which sectors became stronger and which lost ground. For instance, food lost on influence, whereas medical care gained higher interest in spending of consumer goods. The visualization is simple and effective, but lacks in labeling the exact value of personal consumption. That needs to be included for clarity! Nevertheless, as a positive side effect, the reader does not only learn about personal consumption in Japan, but also gets an idea of the Japanese culture. For instance, buying educational material seems to be in vogue every single april. Bingo, in Japan school starts in spring.

Sito wants it readers to think about the heatmap, therefore, he is not providing any interpretation but generally raises the question, whether people in Japan spend more money than they did in the past. Curious what the answer will look like? Check it out!

Consumption Japan


About the author : Eva Lopez (DW)