Nationwide County Map

After many months talking about how we wanted to produce a nationwide county map, we finally had a project come up that called for one with a quick turnaroud — one and a half days! With a great base map by Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso, I created this United States county map that shows unemployment from 2007-2009. This is an early version, so there’s a lot of improvements to make, but I think it’s a solid start, and I’m happy we turned it around as fast as we did. I used classes I created for the helicopters state map and the Virginia governor’s race map to make the build much easier.

Unemployment by county
Unemployment by county

D.C.’s unemployment rate was 12.1% in Oct. 2009 — really high. Macon County, where Franklin is, had an unemployment rate of 10.3%. We’ll keep adding to this map as time goes on, and I think it’ll be really interesting to see what happens with jobs and the economy over time.

Bill Bryson’s Walk Through Franklin

Last week I started reading A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson, a travel book that he wrote after hiking (most of) the Appalachain Trail. Bryson’s novel is funny and educational, full of factoids about the natural environment of the Appalachian mountains and human impact in the past few centuries. On page 83 of my edition, he arrives in Franklin, a small town in southwestern North Carolina that was my home for the first 18 years of my life. Closest reference points are Asheville (1.5 hours northwest) and Atlanta (2 1/2 hours south). I thought Bryson’s observations of the town were hilarious, so I’ve quoted him here:

And so we had a little holiday in Franklin, which was small, dull and cautiously unattractive, but mostly dull — the sort of place where you find yourself, for want of anything better to do, strolling out to the lumberyard to watch guys on forklifts shunting wood about. There wasn’t a thing in the way of diversions, nowhere to buy a book or even a magazine that didn’t involve speedboats, customized cars, or guns and ammo. The town was full of hikers like us who had been driven down from the hills and had nothing to do but hang out listlessly in the diner or launderette and two or three times a day make a pilgrimage to the far end of Main Street to stare forlornly at the distant, snow-draped, patently impassable peaks.

There’s only one place in town I can think of where a diner and a laundromat are in the same shopping plaza, so I wonder if the diner is the B&D, an old staple for my family on Sunday mornings after church. I think Bryson’s observations are funny, but to do it justice, I must say that though Franklin is not the most bustling place on earth, it does have some great qualities that include a beautiful landscape and kind people.

It’s so funny to come across mention of a place no one who isn’t from the area has ever heard in such a well-known novel. I guess I will have to start reading more trail books to find out what others think!

Virginia Election Coverage

I worked on two graphics for the recent election in Virginia — a map that shows the results of the 2009 governor’s race and election results back to ’97, and a delegates meter showing the balance of power in the VA House of Delegates.

VA Election: Results Map
VA Election: Live Results

The governor map showed live results throughout the night, and at the end of the night historical results showed up as well, so that users could look at how voting patterns have shifted since previous elections. I think this was really interesting given the speculation about how the 2008 presidential election might impact this year’s race in Virginia.

VA Elections: Historical Data
VA Elections: Historical Voting Shifts

The delegates meter was a quick piece, I just used some circle drawing math in AS3 to create 100 segments in a half-circle, and fill them in as the results came in. When you roll over the segments, you see current results for that district.

VA Elections; Delegates Meter
VA Elections; Delegates Meter

I made small versions of these graphics to go on our local homepage on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. They were simplified versions that linked out to the full graphics. I think that was a smart way to push traffic to our graphics on election night, while giving  casual viewers a current tally of results.

VA Election: Local HP
VA Election: Local HP

Interactive Map of Virginia: A State of Change

This graphic looks at demographic changes in Virginia for the past 10 years. You can select a category to see demographics on the map, and roll over each county for details. This map reuses functionality I built out for the campaign finance map earlier this year. We’ll get a lot of use out of this map of Virginia in the future.

[Map image]
A state of change

First Shot At Engagement Photography

A few weeks ago I shot my first real set of engagement photos for some friends of mine, Caitlin and Alex, who are getting married in November. We decided to shoot around the Capitol and Supreme Court (2nd St. NE) first and try to get some good shots with some classic DC backgrounds. It rained the whole day but started to clear up right before we went out — about 5:30. We ended up with some really beautiful evening light. They looked great and we had a lot of fun. I mostly used a 50mm lens with an aperture of 1.8 and an off-camera flash when it was needed. It was a really positive experience and I’m looking forward to doing more of it in the future.

Map of DC AIDS Providers for Wasting Away series

This morning a project went up that I’ve been working on for a while. Debbie Cenziper investigated this really interesting piece on funding for AIDS providers in D.C.

“In a city ravaged by the highest rate of AIDS cases in the nation, the D.C. Health Department paid millions to nonprofit groups that delivered substandard services or failed to account for any work at all, even as sick people searched for care or died waiting.” – Staggering need, striking neglect

Whitney Shefte also did this beautiful documentary piece on AIDS in DC, which is really touching and a great overview of what’s happening in the city. For the package, I designed the splash page, the chapterized video player for Whitney’s documentary, and a map of providers in the district.

[Map of AIDS Providers in D.C.
Map of D.C. Aids Providers

Mary Kate Cannistra located the agencies and provided me with a base map, and I built this piece that allows sorting through a slider mechanism and with radio button components. You can isolate agencies based on amount of funding, year of award or type of funding. It allows you to get more information by rolling over agencies or by selecting from a dropdown list, which is updated whenever you change the filters. We’ve also highlighted six providers, for which we’ve added extra information (photo and paragraph description).

The slider is reusable, you just initialize it with the two amounts at either end and the data that needs to update. I think we’ll have a lot of use for that functionality moving forward.

The Politics of the Prize

I created this graphic about controversial winners in Nobel Peace Prize history based off of some of the development work I’d done for the helicopters project. The timeline and slideshow componenets are very similar, I just switched the look of the slideshow portion and made the timeline interact with the slideshow.

[Politics of the Prize]
Timeline: Politics of the Prize

Reusing the classes I’d created saved a lot of time — it only took a few hours to create this piece. With the improvements we could have a 15-minute turnaround on future projects.

The Battle of Wanat

Yesterday we launched a multimedia narrative on the Battle of Wanat, one of the deadliest battles that have taken place in Afghanistan since the war began. I designed and developed this timeline in collaboration with Greg Jaffe, Liz Heron, Ben de la Cruz, Laris Karklis and several others.

It combines video, audio, maps, documents and photography to tell the story of what took place on July 13, 2008, when Taliban fighters launched a major assault on a small U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan, killing nine soldiers and wounding 27. It chronicles the battle from the perspective of a lieutenant killed in the fight, Jonathan Brostrom, and his father, who has been seeking answers to what went wrong.

New Graphic: Redskins Lawsuits, Tickets

This graphic was published today, accompanying a story by James Grimaldi about how the Redskins are selling their tickets to brokers. The graphic explores lawsuits filed by the Redskins since 2005 and tickets sold to one broker in 2008. It also shows which tickets they filed lawsuits over and then resold to the broker. The lawsuits are sortable by amount and status, and the tickets are sortable by game.

[Redskins graphic]