Double pie chart re-design implemented!

Back in October I mocked up a re-design for a pair of pie charts in connection with a DC Action for Children project. I haven’t been contributing to the project much since, but I was very excited to see that Margo Smith got involved through DataKind and implemented (and improved!) my mock-up using d3. Currently the project is still in progress but Margo’s work has already been incorporated.

The original double pie chart:

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 4.22.24 PM

My mock-up:

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 4.22.51 PM

Margo’s implementation:

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 6.28.13 PM

And it’s not just better as a static viz – the live version also animates and adaptively adjusts label positions, really making it fun and revealing to interact with the DC Action for Children map. Very cool to see this come to life!

If you’d like to contribute to this project, check the github and/or get in touch with @nickmcclellan!

And Another Thing… from the Hitchhiker’s Guide

Somehow I hadn’t known about Eoin Colfer’s addendum to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series until just recently. Maybe I hadn’t heard about it because it wasn’t terribly good. I don’t know a lot about fan fiction, but I imagine on the fan fiction spectrum it was pretty good.


My little sister is reading the James Potter series, which is a fan fiction extension of the Harry Potter universe, naturally. That one has gotten so popular that over a million people have read it, apparently. For both these series, were the originals so mind-shatteringly good that they defy imitation? I think it may be that people (including me) fell in love with the originals for reasons not limited to the isolated merits of the work.

I watched Star Wars as a kid on the floor in my grandparents’ living room. It was warm and comfortable and amazingly good. But I don’t think I like the Star Wars movies because they’re the best films out. And I have a hard time hating the newer Star Wars movies. I feel instead a sort of impossible nostalgia for the pasts that children watching them now might recall years hence.

This is all to say, I was aware that Eoin Colfer was not Douglas Adams, but I enjoyed what he did for him.

Popularity Contest

As seems to happen when I have a lot to do, I got the itch this weekend to do something else. So I threw together a quick node app on heroku, using the twit module from npm and bootstrap with the superhero theme from bootswatch. It’s at, which I’m frankly amazed wasn’t taken.

It started as a sort of joke about social media analytics and the silliness of judging things by the noise on twitter, but it’s actually pretty fun. Compare whatever you want to the current Bieber rate of 198,542 tweets per day! and so on.

How does it work? It just gets the most recent 100 tweets (or all tweets) for a search and uses the time since the oldest of those and the number (usually 100) to get a time-per-tweet, which is then translated to tweets-per-day. This is the part that I think is funny: it seems like a lot of people/groups essentially make up whatever crazy calculation they want and try to sell it as social media analytics. “Well, ‘impressions’ is ‘total reach’ times a number we made up, because probably people look at the tweet that many times, right?”

Anyway, it was fun to throw this together this morning. It’s liable to break, because I haven’t done anything clever to ensure that my twitter API credentials don’t get messed up and so on. And of course it can only handle a small rate of queries before it’ll hit twitter’s limits, I think.