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Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
10-02-2014, 01:24 AM
Post: #1
Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
Article: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/....html?_r=0

The visualization shows the survery conducted by two global companies, Gallup and Healthways to calculate the state of well-being of an average American adult. They conducted this survey for a year on 1000 randomly selected adults, from all over America, questions covering a wide spectrum of their life, purpose(like what you do every day and being motivated to achieve your goals), social(having supportive relationships and love in one's life), financial(managing economic life to reduce stress and increase security), community(liking where one lives), physical(having good health and energy) etc. The responses are then mapped to a "Gallup-Healthways Well-being index", a score from 0-10, which is a global measure for people's well-being and quality of life. The composite index ranges from 57(minimum) to 73(maximum). The visualization shows the map of US color-coded with the well-being index. The visualization is quite appealing and shows a pattern of the quality of life in different parts of the US.


Some of the things I liked about the the visualization are:
- The canvas space is very effectively utilized. Also the colors chosen to encode the well-being index are quite distinct and pleasing.
- The interpolation of data when we switch tabs on the left is very smooth.
- The zoom option provided lets a user focus on a state of his interest. The interpolation of data works nicely even in zoomed-in state.
- Each state is sub-divided into regions differing well-being index. This is very informative, as it shows a distinct quality of life exists even in neighboring states, like Kentucky and Tennessee.
- Mouse rollover effect is also provided where one can find the actual value for each state.
- The map key on the top-right corner shows the "percentage" of people who answered affirmative to the questions. This removes any population bias effects in measuring the well-being index.
- A measure of statistical sampling error is also provided.

On the other hand, there are a few things I disliked about this. These are:
- The different factions inside each state are numbered(like Utah 1, Utah 2 etc). No other information about the district is provided when a reader hovers over. A person, not entirely familiar with the map of US, would find it hard to see which district has what well-being index.
- More information about a district(like wikipedia link) could be included when one hovers over a district. Currently the only text included is the question that was asked, which is redundant as it is already been provided at the top.
- No comparitive metric has been provided to gauge differences in two districts/states. Something like another tab, where a user can select two regions and compare the measures from various criteria, would be much helpful.

Overall, I feel the visualization does a good job in potraying the quality of life for an average person in US.
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10-04-2014, 09:55 AM
Post: #2
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
I agree that the visualization did a decent job of mapping the nation's well-being.

What I liked about the visualization:
1. It provides a mapping of different well-being indices like Learning, Happiness, Job satisfaction etc. It also provide a composite index. Transition between these indices is smooth and also we are able to find out the well-being aspect of each index.
2. The mouse roll-over provided gives the percentage of people who answered affirmative.
3. The color encoding provided makes it easy for the viewer to get an overall idea just by a glance.

What I dislike:
1. As Prateep pointed out, a little more information regarding the district will be helpful.

Overall, the visualization serves it's purpose.
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10-04-2014, 10:02 AM
Post: #3
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
I agree: this is an informative visualization. And you've done a thorough job reviewing it.

You mention interpolation, which I would not have thought of. But it seems to me that it might have worked better if the transition between states was not immediate but gradual. That would have allowed the viewer to better appreciate relationships between answers to different questions.

The areas represented on the map--e.g., Utah1 and Utah2--are congressional districts. I agree that a link to more info about those districts would have been nice on rollover, perhaps in the form of a web link.

I have questions about the scaling of the colors. How was the scale chosen? No information on this is given, yet the scaling varies dramatically between questions: sometimes it is very compressed (in which case very small percentage differences translate into color differences). Are such small differences statistically significant? While the color gradations definitely allow the viewer to get a sense of regional patterns (with districts in the south tending to be lower on answers to the questions about obesity and health), they might also lead to spurious conclusions about differences between individual districts. If, for example, 1 percentage point separates two adjoining districts and merits a color difference because of the compressed scale (which I saw in a couple of cases), is that really a relevant difference, especially given sampling error? For that matter, how is a "relevant difference" defined here? For grasping overall regional differences, I feel a less granular filter would have been better. Or, better yet, allow the viewer to adjust the granularity, depending on the objective. But, in general, I think that some disclosure/explanation about how the color scale was chosen would have been important.

The East/West split on exercise is pretty dramatic.
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10-04-2014, 12:55 PM
Post: #4
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
I agree that this visualization is an effective visualization. It uses a map to represent the average of people’s well-being over the country. Data is represented and differed by states (some are subdivided into regions in states), and use different hues of yellow color to indicate their well-being number.
Some of feature I like about this viz:
1. The map and color hue used well show the well-being distribution of the whole country.
2. Some states are divided into small regions with different well-being data. That is good information to indicate that people in different parts of the same state could have different opinion, life style and their feeling to well-being. People could also check which part they belong to.
3. Moving the mouse to specific state or region could give you the number of well-being on that state.

Some part which I think could improve:
1. I agree with the Critiques author that too little information is provided about the different regions in the state. These regions are named as State #1, state #2 and so on, which is confusing to most people and research that why should it divided that way. Also more information about that region could be provided to help people easy to locate where it is, like its main or county in that region.
2. For the whole country, the average number of well-being of whole United State should be provide. So people could compare and have an idea which states and regions are above average well-being and which are not.
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10-04-2014, 03:26 PM
Post: #5
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
This is pretty cool. I'd like to know how the composite index was created but that can be obtained elsewhere. The color encoding is nice. The regions in the map for Utah don't seem to match the actual regions in Utah. I assume the regions were defined in the data and not formed as part of the data preparation. The visualization is good for comparing regions/states for a single measure including the composite. If a user wants to compare measures s/he must switch back and forth. A interesting addition to the vis would be the ability to pick measures to compare in a side by side or small multiples view.
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10-04-2014, 03:33 PM
Post: #6
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
I too agree that this visualization was space effective and well colored.

Things I liked about the graph:
1. There is a lot of information in the graph but it is placed in a way so as not to overwhelm the readers.
2. As mentioned by Prateep03, the interpolation is done well with smooth transitions.
3. I like the use of Mouse Rollover to encode more detailed data about each district of the states of America.
4. The zoom helps us look at really small districts.
5. The key does not range uniformly , i.e, In the Composite Index section, the lightest shade is given a range of 57 to 64, but a whole shade of color is dedicated to 67 to 68. However, it does make sense as there might be more districts with the values 67 and 68 than there are within the range 57 to 64.

The only problem I had with the visualization was in the Composite Index. Both North and South Dakota have the came composite index of 68. But they are represented with different colors which is misleading. I observed the same pattern even with the districts of Utah.

This said, I find this visualization easy to interpret.
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10-04-2014, 09:05 PM
Post: #7
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
I like the idea that each state is divided into numbers of parts according to different well-being indexes. But also think the colors used in the map do not form an obvious contrast, which makes it easy to confuse different regions. So I think maybe more distinguishable colors should be used in this visualization. Overall this is a good visualization with many pros like the zoom option and mouse roll effects that mentioned by the criticizer above, and I also agree that the visualization is less of comparitive metric which is in need to gauge differences in two areas.
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10-04-2014, 11:45 PM
Post: #8
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
This visualization is very effective in conveying the intended information. I like it that they used color hues instead of different colors to get an overall picture. Different colors would have made it more complicated to gain an idea from a single glance. Also,
dissent aspects of well being has been explored without making the data to look more cluttered. It would have been better if they supported scroll over mode in zoom, as the zoom in buttons in the left always zooms over a particular portion of the map(or it does so in my system). Also, I agree that more information could be provided about the different regions of the same state.
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10-05-2014, 11:02 AM
Post: #9
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
First off, it took a minute of hunting to find out what the Map Key for 57-73 meant. Not until I read your comment on the composite index ranges for 57(minimum) to 73(maximum) was I more at ease what those values meant. In this case, I think the author should have been more explicit then just leaving things to a "lower is worse"/" more is better" idiom for those not in the know. I would have to disagree with the comment on the districts divisions in each state since the preface to the visualization did state that things are sorted by 2010 Congressional districts. I would also say the color choices, though at odds with your opinion, are too uniform to really show the contrast of what areas reported a higher quality of life versus lower. The color seems to state that everyone in the USA is approximately at the same level of happiness give or take sixteen points on the key. Does 57 to 73 really even make that much of a difference for overall well-being? I actually did not even realize that the menu on the left was actually for the visualization to see a more detailed subcategory of well-being indicators until I read the post. The menu selections look too much like a regular menu selection for website navigation then for a drill-down. It might be best if the author actually integrated this menu into the map better to make it stand out. I too think overall that the visualization is effective in showing regional metrics for well-being though there are the few points listed before that would help make it more expressive.
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10-05-2014, 11:04 AM
Post: #10
RE: Week 6: Mapping the Nation's Well-Being
This is a very cool and effective visualization. Readers can both have a overview of well-being all over the country and reading details according to the left-side index. Even in each state, different regions are divided by gradually varied yellow color. Geometry with inserted context give us a detailed information when we move mouses.
Two aspects I think could be improved is: one thing is when we select a specific index, like learning, the question is "Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?", then we rollover the mouse to a region, context will be shown, but besides the order and percentage, the only text is the repeated question which is not useful. Maybe some other information could be added. Another thing is, all states are shown together under a specific title like happiness and so on. We could add all categories to each state, then we will have a integral view of each state. For example, in utah, we could see three different regions, the conditions of smoking, exercise, insurance ... can be shown in one map with interpolation to compare, then we can learn the state which we focus very easily.
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