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Entries in presidential (44)

Friday
Oct012010

"How Do I Become President?" Infographic Contest for Kids

From Challenge.gov and Kids.gov is an infographics contest for kids up to age 17.  “How Do I Become President?” invites kids to design an infographic or poster before the deadline on November 3, 2010. The Best Overall Infographic will win $2,500 in prize money, and a printed version will be sent to schools and libraries around the country.

Kids.gov is frequently asked, “How can I become the President when I grow up?” Help answer this question by creating an infographic or a poster that explains the process.

The winners will be featured on Kids.gov and the Best Overall Infographic will be printed as posters and distributed to schools and libraries across the country.

 

The judging lineup should be familiar to followers of CoolInfographics.com, I have posted many infographics from some of the infographic judges.

Ali Felski

Ali Felski is Sunlight Labs Senior Designer. Having previously worked for design agencies, WashingtonPost-Newsweek Interactive, and in the United States intelligence community, she brings a wide array of design experience and perspective to the projects in the Labs. Her work has been featured in widely-read Web design publications including Smashing Magazine, numerous CSS Galleries and her personal portfolio website won a South by Southwest award in 2009. She earned her BFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Nicholas Felton

Nicholas Felton spends much of his time thinking about data, charts and our daily routines. He is the author of several Personal Annual Reports that collate countless measurements into a rich assortment of graphs and maps reflecting the year’s activities. He is the co-founder of Daytum.com, a site for counting and communicating daily data, and frequent designer of information graphics for numerous corporations and publications. His work has been profiled in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Wired and Creative Review.

Arlene Hernandez

Manager of Kids.gov

Sarah Slobin

Sarah Slobin has been a Visual Journalist for more than 15 years. She began her training at The New York Times where she spent over a decade working as a Graphics Editor across all the major new desks, as well as running the BusinessDay graphics department. Sarah left the Times to be the Infographics director for Fortune Magazine and Fortune.com. Currently, she is a Senior Graphics Editor at The Wall Street Journal.

Mike Wirth

Mike Wirth is a designer, educator and artist, who utilizes technology as his central medium. Mike is an assistant professor of New Media Design at Queens University of Charlotte and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. He also owns and operates mikewirthart.com, where he produces interactive, print and motion media projects for clients of various industries.

 

Thanks to Jess and Arlene for sending in the link!

Thursday
Jun102010

A Cool Interview with Nathaniel Pearlman (infographic designer)

 

With the release of the Visual History of the American Presidency last week, I asked Nathaniel Pearlman, infographic designer and President of Timeplots, LLC, if he would be willing to do a short interview.  Nathaniel was nice enough to answer a few questions about his infographic design process and his projects.

Nathaniel started the company in May 2009 and released the Visual History of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) (which you see above) as their first infographic poster. 

Here’s the interview with Nathaniel:

 

Cool Infographics: What software applications do you use for the Timeplots posters?

Nathaniel Pearlman: So far we have programmed our graphics in the R language and done some final design work in Illustrator. I’m interested in hearing about other platforms to use for complex data and layout — especially other software applications that would allow us to create interactive and print versions from the same code base.


Cool Infographics: Can you describe your design process?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We start by asking ourselves what an informed audience would want to know about the subject we’re tackling. For example, for the presidential print, we asked ourselves, “Why is each president important? Why should people care about these guys? What is measurable about the context in which they served, and how could we show that?”

Then we go through a data collection phase: we take some time to see what data has already been collected on the subject, we catalog sources, and then we obtain data (and rights, if necessary) for the information we need. We wait until we have the hard data and have examined it and visualized it in several ways before we settle on what stories we can pull out of it.

The primary phase of the design process is iterative – there is a lot of trial and error. For example, we programmed (and scrapped) several major design ideas for our Senate print before settling on the current version. It turns out that our process is longer and more involved than I expected. Each print thus far has taken many months of data collection, design, and review. We also included quite a number of reviewers into our design process, folks with substantive expertise and designers as well.


Cool Infographics: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from the data?

Nathaniel Pearlman: I like the big picture: for me, the presidential print shows a historical view into the sweep of U.S. history — a marked contrast with the more journalistic, and immediate, take on the political and economic state of the nation that we are used to seeing in the news. It lengthened my perspective on current events, and I hope that it does so for those who purchase the print.

When you see the entire span of U.S. history visualized in just a few feet of space, you see the economy bouncing up and down, the parties jockeying back and forth, the budget bumping along. The ups and downs then seem fairly routine from this perspective, especially when compared to the sensationalism of our daily headlines. The other thing that really stands out is the growth of the country since 1789, both economically (in real GDP) and in population. As to the small picture: I love seeing details of each election — what percentage of the vote did Strom Thurmond get in 1948, for example, and which states did he win — so we tried to put each election into context with a scoreboard and electoral cartogram wrapped around the curve of party control of the executive.

 


Cool Infographics: What was the hardest part behind designing the Presidential poster?

Nathaniel Pearlman: When you see a finished product like ours, what you miss are the hundreds of decisions that were labored over as it was created. For me, the most difficult thing is deciding when I’m done. Every time I look at a new draft, I have ideas for changes that could be made. At some point I have to say “enough is enough; we are done.” The other hard part is writing the text that’s included on the print.. just crafting short explications of each presidency is difficult.


Cool Infographics: Where are some of your favorite places that have the SCOTUS poster on display?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We are happy that the U.S. Supreme Court library displays a framed print, and the gift shop in the Supreme Court building itself carries the print. We’ve also seen many purchases by legal luminaries — we’re not legal experts ourselves, so it’s nice to see that the experts appreciate our work. A son of a current justice bought one. Also, many high school teachers from across the country have purchased prints for their classrooms (we offer discounts for educators); it’s great to see teachers showing interest in using data visualization as an educational tool.


Cool Infographics: Where do you have the posters printed, what are the printing specs and why? 

Nathaniel Pearlman: We shopped around quite a bit for a printer, because we are fussy about the results – we wanted the quality of the paper to top-notch, we needed relatively fast turnaround and reliable fulfillment, and we wanted the printing process to be environmentally friendly — all of this, of course, at an affordable cost. We currently offset-print the posters in Maryland, at Whitmore printing, and they also do our fulfillment. (Ideally, we would like to find an affordable on-demand printer who can handle our large-scale posters and fulfillment. If we found this, we would be able to sell shorter-run prints; please send me any suggestions!)


Cool Infographics: Would you share some thoughts on running a business selling infographic posters?

Nathaniel Pearlman: I am enjoying Timeplots. As a profit-generating business, it is not for the faint-of-heart. I am lucky to have some time and space to try it, but it is unlikely to run in the black for quite some time. My first company, NGP Software, Inc. (www.ngpsoftware.com) is doing well and allows me to do this on the side.


Cool Infographics: How has the Timeplots On Demand side of the business been going with private clients? 

Nathaniel Pearlman: We’ve really enjoyed working with people who aren’t necessarily familiar with data visualization — everyone who we’ve worked with has been more than happy with the results. So — if anyone reading this has a project in mind, or if you want us to create a visualization for you or your institution — let us know!


Cool Infographics: How did the process of using Amazon Mechanical Turk for proofreading work for you?

Nathaniel Pearlman: Mechanical Turk is a good method for crowd-sourcing some kinds of work. We’ve used it for three separate projects now — twice for proofreading, and once for fact-checking research. We have gotten more hits than misses, so it’s been worthwhile. Eliza manages that process and has been impressed by the level of work she has received. The Mechanical Turk worker community (“turkers,” as they call themselves) are serious about their work, and it shows. In a couple cases, a “turker” found an error that we all missed: for example, when we posted the presidential print for proofreading, one turker pointed out that we listed Vice President John C. Breckinridge as “Breckenridge,” clearly misspelling his name. Another turker noted that we had described President Taylor as dying “halfway” through his term, when in fact it was a few months prior to “halfway.”


Cool Infographics: What should we expect in the future from Timeplots?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We have a rough list of fifty or sixty more projects we would love to do. After we launch the Senate print, we will decide what is next. I would love to hear from your audience what they would like to see, and we are always looking for collaborators, if someone would like to work with us on a project that they care about. We’re always open to new ideas!

 

Thursday
Jun102010

A Visual History of the American Presidency - new infographic poster

 

Timeplots has released their second infographic poster, A Visual History of the American Presidency.  Timeplots was launched by Nathaniel Pearlman and Frank Hamilton in December 2009 with the release of the Visual History of the Supreme Court infographic poster, which is now hanging in many schools, law practices and political offices.

This large-scale print is like nothing else available on the history of the American presidency. It places each president in historical context, visualizing a remarkable range of political, social, and economic measures to succinctly tell the story of the presidency. Narratives are displayed within the larger context of American political history by aggregating and annotating hard data on population, presidential elections, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the U.S. economy, and the federal budget and debt. The Timeplot provides a new lens into American political history; it is not intended to be absorbed at a glance, but rather to be visited and revisited over time.

 

 

A beautiful poster, and a very impressive infographic design.  Very Tufte-like in its infographic design, which is no surprise since Nathaniel was a student of Edward Tufte at Yale.  

At its heart, this is a fantastic mix of timelines.  Additionally, the poster is an incredibly detailed infographic that includes things like the time period of each President, the balance of Congress during each term, approval ratings, population growth, the U.S. GDP, the Federal Budget, unemployment, election cartograms and statistics, a biography of each President’s political history and so much more.

 

 

The high-resolution infographic is available on the Timeplots site using Zoomify, but it really shines as the printed poster.  You can order the printed 32”x48” poster from the Timeplots.com site for $45, or a smaller 24”x36” version for $30. 

 

 

Great job to the entire team at Timeplots!  Later today, I’ll post a behind-the-scenes interview with Nathaniel.

Wednesday
Apr282010

Jess Bachman Interview (Death & Taxes 2011 Poster Giveaway!!)  #deathandtaxes

Last week, Jess Bachman (@mibi) from WallStats.com released the new 2011 Death & Taxes poster.  I caught up with Jess (by email) to ask some questions about his huge infographic undertaking.  The high-resolution image of the poster is available now online, and the printed version will start shipping on May 7th.  You can pre-order for $24, and the shipping cost is only $0.75 TODAY (April 28th)

WIN a copy of the poster!  Jess has been kind enough to offer a free poster to a reader of Cool Infographics.  To be eligible, you must tweet (or retweet) a link to this post on Twitter before May 7th, and include the #deathandtaxes hashtag.  I included the hashtag in the post title, so any retweets will be automatically eligible.  NOTE: you must also be following me on Twitter (@rtkrum) so that I can send you a DM if you have won!

Death and Taxes” is a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget. It contains over 500 programs and departments and almost every program that receives over 200 million dollars annually. The data is straight from the president’s 2011 budget request and will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress to begin the fiscal year. All of the item circles are proportional in size to their funding levels for visual comparison and the percentage change from both 2010 and 2001 is included so you can spot trends.

The detail in this poster is stunning, and in this small shot you can see how the total budget request breaks out. Only the “Military/Nat. Security Discretionary” and “Non-Military/Nat. Security Discretionary” portions of the budget request details are displayed in the poster.

 

Jess was also nice enough to answer a few interview questions I sent him:

Cool Infographics: What software applications do you use for the Death & Taxes posters?

Jess Bachman: The only applications I use are Photoshop and Excel.  Excel is where I in put all the data and it crunches the numbers, adjusts for inflation and calculates diameters.  Photoshop is where I put it all together and the PSD file occasionally exceeds 1 gig so it can be a beast to work with.  Saving takes about 5 minutes.

Cool Infographics: What’s your design process?

Jess Bachman: Normally I start from scratch and layout the images and make them fit; however, this year the budget didn’t change all that much, likely being from the same President, so I was able to keep the 2010 format and change the size of circles.  Of course some things had to be added and removed.  So this year I saved myself about 3 weeks of work just getting right into it, but the design process is grueling.  it’s small tasks, repeated 500 times.

Cool Infographics: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from the data?

Jess Bachman: I can definitely see the differences in Presidents from Bush to Obama.  Lots of reductions on the military side this year and the whole security climate as a whole isn’t as fiscally robust as it was a few years ago.  Much more progressive funding with Obama too.  Every year Bush would cut climate change research, now its back, along with other green tech.  For some reason, public proadcasting gets the hack saw every year no matter who’s in office.

Cool Infographics: Where are some of your favorite places that have the Death & Taxes poster on display?

Jess Bachman: Well it’s always good to see it on display in schools and classrooms.  But I really enjoy hearing from military members who have in their offices or even in station.  I have sent several to Afghanistan.  Critics often say the poster is anti-military, but the military is quite receptive to it, even the former Dept. of Defense Comptroller, Tina Jonas, loved the poster.  Some people from the Dept of Energy’s Oak Ridge Lab displayed the poster on their 30’ Everest computer screen… that was cool too.

Cool Infographics: What’s the hardest part when developing the poster?

Jess Bachman: The hardest part is just getting through all the rote data processing and mindless photoshopping.  The research side is quite fun, and going through the military budgets is a trip with all their classified and hi-tech programs. However, copying and pasting 5,000 times really takes a toll on my creativity and motivation.

Cool Infographics: You said you do a lot of copy & paste work, in what format do you get the data?

Jess Bachman: Some of the government data is in Excel already, but there is no context so I am dubious about working solely with their data sets.  Mostly I pull the numbers from the actual printed budget, which is in PDF form.  So I end up copying and pasting the program name and its funding level for 3 years into Excel, then I copy and paste the program name, funding level, and percentages back into photoshop as a text layer.  Rinse and repeat 500 times.  Many people ask if there was an automated way to create the poster each year and I wish there was, but the confines of the paper make size and fit a manual process.

Cool Infographics: Where do you have them printed, what are the printing specs and why?

Jess Bachman: I get my posters printed from a company called PrintPelican in Florida.  There really are no cheaper prices out there but I opt for a thicker cut of paper than usual.  I get 100# gloss cover which is a few shades from a business card in thickness.  To be honest, they have screwed up my order a few times over the years but we have always managed to work it out.  I usually print runs of 1000-2500 and always 24” x 36”.

Cool Infographics: How do you handle all of the printing and shipping of the posters?  Do you tube them yourself?

Jess Bachman: I used to do it all myself.  I had a 400lb brick of posters next to my bed, and 12 giant boxes of tubes all over the house, and I would roll pack and ship them all.  Now I use two shippers who do fulfillment of the orders for me.  For a while I would send them the orders and addresses weekly but I have offloaded that duty as well.  I think the self shipping method is a good lesson in customer service and its good to know your product inside and out, but after while my time became more valuable than stuffing tubes could afford.

Cool Infographics: You’ve used a few different online zoomable image services in the last few years, what have you learned?

Jess Bachman: There are lots of zooming options out there and new ones seem to pop up all the time.   I used Zoomify until it felt too clunky and slow, then Zoomorama which I really loved for its performance and options.  This year I experimented with an self hosted open source app called Open Zoom and it certainly was a slick and great user experience, unfortunately the demands it placed on my server from huge inflows of traffic proved too much, taking down the whole site.  So I had to switch to my backup, which was Closr.it, and let them deal with server demands.  Closr.it has been very attentive to my needs and I have found that most developers will work with me to tailor a custom solution if I ask.  The zooming apps keep getting better so I expect to keep changing apps as long as the space keeps innovating.

Cool Infographics: You mentioned the 30’ display, have you printed it out in larger sizes?

Jess Bachman: No, I have not printed it out any larger.  The file being Photoshop, and the images being mostly rastered do not allow quality printing beyond the poster size.  The file is 300 dpi so I could get away with a slightly larger size, but oversize printing is expensive and who wants a poster that big anyways. 

Cool Infographics: Where do the images come from?

Jess Bachman: Most of the military images come from defenseLINK, which is a great repository for hi-res military photos.  Other images come from stock photography sites for the most part.  It does help that most government logos are round.  I suppose it’s just an old school way of doing things, government seals and all.  The design aesthetic amongst government logos is really all over the map though, and its quite interesting.  Some look like that are from the 1700’s, and some from the 2700’s.

 There was one correction to the online version that Jess has posted:

So I totally had the wrong data for NASA on the visual. Here is the corrected image, which reflects what you have been reading in the news. Science up, space down. I fixed it before it was printed, don’t worry.

You can view the image, buy the poster and more at the new site DeathandTaxesPoster.com.

SPECIAL: If you pre-order the poster TODAY (April 28th) shipping is only $0.75!

Monday
Feb082010

Obama's 2011 Budget Proposal Infographic

From NYTines.com, a treemap of Obama’s Budget Proposal color coded for increases and decreases from the prior year.

Rectangles in the chart are sized according to the amount of spending for that category. Color shows the change in spending from 2010.

Red indicates budget cuts, and green indicates increases in spending.  It’s a little bit interactive, allowing you to zoom into specific parts of the budget, and see detials by hovering the mouse over squares.

Designed by Shan Carter and Amanda Cox.

Found on FlowingData.

Monday
Dec072009

A Visual History of the Supreme Court - New Infographic Poster!

 


Today, I want to share the launch of Timeplots.com.  A new infographic site focused on designing visual timelines by Nathaniel Pearlman and Frank Hamilton.  The Timeplots.com site launched today highlighting their first project; a poster called “A Visual History of the Supreme Court of the United States”.

This large-scale (48″x32″) print displays the full sweep of American federal judicial history from 1789 to 2009. It combines biographical information on every Supreme Court justice with a visualization of the influence of U.S. presidents and their political parties on the Court over time, and includes vote counts and summaries of landmark cases.

Months of work went into researching the history of the Supreme Court, and that effort really shows through in the level of detail in this poster.

 

 


It’s a good thing they offer this as a large format poster, because the detail draws you closer to discover the events and landmark decisions that are the colorful history of the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States).

 

 

I love that even on their About page, they created small, infographic timelines as a visual of their individual experiences and career histories.  Here’s Nathaniel’s:

 

 


Timeplots has also started a new service, Timeplots on Demand:

Timeplots’ dedicated staff is ready to work directly with you to honor your own organization—your company, school, nonprofit, team, church, or family—with a custom Timeplot of your institution’s history. Let us help you collect data, create memorable images, and visualize the developments of your institution.

Congratulations to both Nathaniel and Frank!

 

Monday
Sep142009

Obama's Worldwide Stamps of Approval infographic


From our friends at GOOD transparency, is a simple infographic showing President Obama's worldwide approval rating.  I like the use of stamps to help identify the countries around the world, and that the order is representative of highest approval to lowest approval ratings.  I think this graphic lacks the use of illustration to convey the data.  The actual approval ratings are only communicated with the numbers without any graphic representation.
During the campaign, President Obama argued that his election would help restore the image the rest of the world has of United States.  In the six months since his election, his approval ratings at home have slipped, though they remain high. Around the rest of the world, opinion is mixed. A recent study by WorldPublicOpinion.org asked people in 21 countries whether they had confidence that Obama would “do the right thing” when it came to world affairs. Our latest Transparency is a look at their responses.
One other criticism would be that the text implies that we should be looking at how worldwide opinion has changed since Obama's election, but the data is actually only a snapshot of opinions six months after the election.  No indication is this is higher or lower than the opinions at the time of his election.

A collaboration between GOOD and Michael Newhouse at Newhouse Design.

Thanks Michelle for the link!

Tuesday
Aug042009

NEW Death and Taxes 2010 poster!!

First, Jess from WallStats.com has released the 2010 Death & Taxes poster.  This is one of the best infographic examples today.  It's extremely informative, and the topic has a very wide reach.  The Death & Taxes poster from 2007 was my initial post on Cool Infographics, so I'm very excited to see this update.   Now the 2010 version is available to purchase as a poster here. Great job Jess!

Second, I'm really impressed by the viewer code for the poster. It's from Zoomorama.com, and lets me embed the interactive viewer.  The built-in zoom is pretty nice, but the Quick Find index on the left side is the best part.

Wednesday
Jul222009

Obama's Credit Card Statement

Here's another one I found while I was checking out gimmiethescoop.com. From Tyler Shears, this one visualizes the last six months of Federal Reserve debt as a credit card bill.

Wednesday
Feb252009

Taking Apart the $819B Stimulus Package

Very detailed infographic from the Washington Post showing how the proposed stimulus package is broken out between ares of spending and tax cuts.

The centerpiece of President Obama's domestic agenda is an $819 billion economic stimulus plan. The Senate will consider the measure this week, with an eye toward the amount of tax cuts and spending. Republicans and Democrats spar over what to consider a tax cut. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tallies the tax-cut portion to be significantly less than the one-third Democrats claim it to be.

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office | Reporting by Karen Yourish, graphic by Laura Stanton - The Washington Post - February 01, 2009