The Fourth Month

Month No. 4 was busy...and pretty decent overall.

I had a few graphics published on I attended a couple great conferences. I mentored some people. Another one of my session proposals was accepted. AND I started building some actual tools that (I hope) will be useful for CIR and the rest of the data journalism community.

Fun stuff.

On the flip side, I do wish I had more assignments at CIR. I've been feeling underutilized, and I'd really like to be designing and building systems rather than one-off graphics. Hopefully I can find my way onto a bigger project – or at the very least pick up some additional smaller ones.


Visualized: Political Data

I wrote about it.

Google I/O 2015

I took some notes.

Mentoring Stanford Students

I spent a day at Stanford helping Cheryl Phillips’ computer science and journalism students design their data visualization projects. It was a cool experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to help.


Published: Where can you carry a concealed gun in public?

This was Super-Secret Project No. 2 that I mentioned last month.

Check it out: U.S. Map

Project strengths: I’m pretty happy with how this project turned out, especially from the technical implementation side of things. It’s quite small for an interactive (~157KB, almost half of which comes from Reveal web fonts and analytics); it’s responsive; it provides a tailored experience for touch devices; and the data is completely accessible via the keyboard and screen readers. I think it’s a good stab at making interactive graphics usable for a broader audience.

Opportunities for improvement: I don’t love this interactive from a news value perspective – it's a bit superficial since most of the data isn’t geographic. Also, the addition of the court locations was a (very) late feature request, so that portion of the graphic doesn't work particularly well on mobile devices, just due to time constraints. There's definitely room to improve the newsroom's digital workflow processes; I have some ideas that I'll elaborate on at a later date.

Published: California's Concealed Gun Permits by County

These interactives were part of Super-Secret Project No. 3 I mentioned last month.

California Map

Check 'em out: Choropleth Map, Interactive Table (scroll down a bit)

Project strengths: The graphics are lightweight and performant; the data is (mostly) accessible; the styles are on-brand; and the user experience on mobile isn't terrible. I also wrote all the interactivity in vanilla javascript, so the graphics are depedency-free, which is nice.

Opportunities for improvement: A few notes on deadlines:

  1. Deadlines are important.
  2. Deadlines only work when they're communicated.
  3. Deadlines shouldn't move – they especially shouldn't move up.

For these graphics, I had a bunch of accessibility enhancements I hoped to get in place before publication, but when (on June 11) the deadline moved from Tuesday, June 16 to Friday, June 12...certain features were cut. Ambigious deadlines are worthless – they don't allow people to appropriately prioritize their work.


Anyway, now I'm trying to build some SVG generation tools that will automatically include accessiblility features (tab indexes, keyboard events, etc.) so that developers can include AT enhancements in their graphics without needing to budget extra time to do so.

Awaiting Publication: Super-Secret Project No. 1

This is the same Super-Secret Project No. 1 that I talked about last month. I finished it around mid-May, but I'm not sure when it's scheduled for publication.

New Project: Accessible SVG Generator

Like I mentioned above, I'm working on a front-end tool that will generate accessible SVG graphics. It'll be more of a resource for UI folks and ambitious reporters rather than back-end devs. I'm excited about it.


My session proposal on SVG animation was accepted for NEJSConf. It's a single-track conference, so that'll be a new and exciting experience for me. This conference is also going to be awesome because:

  1. It's at the zoo.
  2. @beep is the keynote.
  3. I get to return to Homaha for it.

These are all good things.