Browsing All Posts filed under »History«

“The Future Will Turn Out Alright”: Hope, Opportunity, and Norwegian Vocational Schools

July 30, 2016 by


What makes a good school?  A good school system?  A good society?  Recently, my wife and I traveled to Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, and I came back both heartened and saddened.  The more I learned about education in those countries—particularly in Norway—the more I got to thinking about our own system of education.  Of course, you start by […]

The Macroscope

May 24, 2015 by


As a public school teacher, I frequently feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information I receive. I get data about student performance, about equity measures, about student’s lives and about parent’s aspirations. Yet at some point during my graduate coursework I started to rethink how I approached exactly what value I was getting from […]

Strangers in Paris: census maps, layering, and data compression

April 20, 2011 by


I have been working on a blog series on census data visualizations for another site (which will be reproduced here when it’s all up). First of all, I am using that as an excuse to justify how little I have been posting in the last couple of weeks. However, there is also something I could […]

AAAS Visualization Challenge

March 2, 2011 by


Data visualization isn’t limited to the social sciences. As a case in point, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes the journal Science) recently held a competition for data visualization. There were some really cool ideas – a team from MIT tracked where pieces of trash ended up, a Russian team created a […]

Public Debt and GDP

February 16, 2011 by


Which countries have the greatest public debts relative to the size of their economies? The IMF has a great data mapping tool, which includes the ability to look at historical data and play back changes over time. The following graph comes from their historical public debt database; the graph below was adjusted using PPP. The […]

Advertising and GDP

February 3, 2011 by


Do advertising expenditures as a percentage of GDP hold constant over time? Some empirical research shows that a rough relationship between these two variables is supported – advertising has contributed to around 2% of GDP over the last century, even as these expenditures have increased (in both nominal and real terms). Advertising can be thought […]

Taxonomy vs. iconography in data visualization

February 3, 2011 by


During college I worked at the University of Chicago Special Collections, where they keep the old, valuable, and/or particularly noteworthy volumes in the Library’s collection, among other things.  It is a very, very cool place (if you are in Chicago, it is definitely a place to see along with the Art Institute and MCA).  Well […]

A short visual history of charts and graphs

February 3, 2011 by


Most of the charts used today in data visualization among virtually all of the social sciences (economics included–you can’t get out of it this time) derive from the original design of William Playfair (1759-1823), political economist and a product of the Scottish enlightenment, and Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777), a mathematician of the Alpine inclination.  Together, […]

A short visual history of social network mapping

February 1, 2011 by


I stumbled across an interesting journal yesterday: The Journal of Social Structure. The sort of public arm of the International Network for Social Network Analysis, one of the first papers dealt with an informal introduction to data visualization in general.  I thought that may also be a good place to begin Seeing Complexity. The idea […]