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DJ Anti-Showcase: Mismatching Story and Visualization

Traditional media seems to have suddenly woken up to the need of having its “presence” in data journalism. The irony is, few understand the opportunity and how it could potentially impact journalism. But no one wants to give it a miss; it is the coolest thing in the business.

Visualization, the most tangible face of data journalism is the fanciest thing to do. And most of the easy to use and cheap/free tools are slso available to do that. So why not?

This story from Hindustan Times, BJP’s loss in UP worse than it seems, is a great example of how visualization should not be made. The story which analyzes the recent bypolls data to argue that BJP actually lost a lot of vote share is a decent story. It achieves one thing. It negates any argument that BJP’s loss is because of some other party pulling more because of some other factors; or the loss is not because of vote share loss but because of arithmetic reasons. That’s a fairly timely story.

But the visualization that goes with it neither proves this point nor adds any information to the story. It is a completely different comparison between how much votes BJP got in different constituencies and a comparison of those votes, which actually is completely meaningless.

In short, the visualization that accompanies the story is not only unrelated to the storyline, it is of no use. A good visualization, says visualization guru, Alberto Cairo, should be beautiful, functional and insightful. If it is not insightful, it is still a story; a boring story. But this one is not even functional. What’s the point of comparing votes in different constituencies?

A visualization depicting a side by side comparison of BJP’s vote in last election and this one would have simply communicated the idea. In fact, what has been represented as two visuals, could be combined to make the point that the story is making.

 

 

 

 

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The Contours of A Mobile World

ITU has released its latest ICT indicators database for June 2014. This is updated with 2013 numbers for most indicators.

According to the data, global mobile subscriptions will be just short of 7 billion mark in 2014, standing at 6.9 billion. The total mobile subscriptions in 2013 stood at 6.6 billion.

That is as many as 93.1 mobiles per every 100 inhabitants. The figure will go up to 95.5 in 2014, according to ITU.

A little analysis reveals interesting insights.

  • Among the ten countries with highest mobile subscriptions base, six are in Asia.
  • Top ten countries account for 58% of the total mobile subscriptions
  • Chinese regions (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao) and the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives) together account for 37% of the world’s mobile subscriptions. 
  • The world has 32 mobile broadband connections for 100 inhabitants. The developed-developing country divide is significant here. In the developed world, the figure stands at 83.7 while in the developing world, it stands at just 21.1.

Here are some important figures regarding mobile telephony.

Growth in global mobile subscriptions continues, with no signs of either slowing down or accelerating.

The mobile densities across countries vary significantly, though. Here is a world map depicting number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Those with dark red have the lowest density and those with dark green have the highest density of mobile subscribers.  Just hover over the country to get the absolute value.

However, two countries are dominant leaders: China and India. With Indonesia almost catching up with the USA, it is a matter of few months before the three largest mobile countries would be in Asia.

Some countries have seen significant growth during the last 12 years, when the world changed to a mobile world. Here is a list of countries which recorded the maximum growth between 2001 to 2013.

And this is how the mobile density of world’s largest emerging economies (BRICS) grew.