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February 23 2013

February 20 2013

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January 29 2013


January 19 2013

November 18 2012

June 22 2012

Visualization of the Week: The story behind the U.S. power grid

Visualizations and promo videos from the PBS series "America Revealed" were passed around this week, and it's easy to see why they caught on. Maps like these are fascinating.

Those pictures are impressive, but what drew me in was the mix of visuals and context that you see within episodes of the TV series. So often we're presented with visuals or a story. But if visualizations are meant to do more than paint pretty pictures, we need the "and" — data and a story, a visualization and its context. This is why Hans Rosling's approach is so compelling.

With that in mind, this week's visualization is a segment from the "Electric Nation" episode of "America Revealed" that illustrates — and explains — the development, use and fragility of the United States' electric power grid. The segment is below and you can find the full 53-minute episode available for free here. Other episodes in the series are posted here.

(Note: If the embedded video doesn't jump to the electric grid segment, scrub to the 4:34 mark. The segment runs until 8:39. Watch for the grid maps and the illustration of the 2003 Northeast blackout.).

Found a great visualization? Tell us about it

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring visualizations. We're always looking for leads, so please drop a line if there's a visualization you think we should know about.

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More Visualizations:

April 21 2012


March 18 2012


January 19 2010

D. R. of Congo: The hazards of neglect

Congoblog is a marvel. Every post deserves a mention, but here are some of the more arresting posts to have appeared so far in January:

From Kisangani, Boyomais laments the ‘disastrous' conditions in his country's health clinics, where “the order of the day well known to all is: no money, no care”.

by Luba for

by Luba for

The wife of one patient complains that:

Nous avons du mal à fermer l’œil la nuit tellement il y a des moustiques. Mon mari a des problèmes d’estomac mais, dans ces conditions, il n’est pas surprenant qu’il soit atteint de la malaria dans cet hôpital. Les moustiquaires que nous avons trouvé ne servent plus à rien car il a des trous partout.

There are so many mosquitoes that we can hardly close our eyes at night. My husband has stomach problems but in these conditions, it won't be surprising if he catches malaria in this hospital. The mosquito nets that we found are useless as they're full of holes.

From the capital, Mwana Kin reports on a lethal hazard arising from disrepair:

Au fil des années, les câbles de la SNEL sont sortis de terre et arpentent les rues des principaux quartiers. Les jours de pluie, le mélange explosif entre le non fonctionnement du système d’évacuation des eaux et la présence des câbles dans la rue fait plusieurs victimes.

Over the years, the cables of SNEL [the national electricity company] have come out of the ground and run along the roads of the main residential areas. When it rains, the explosive mix of the lack of drainage and the presence of these cables claims many victims.

As the prospect of elections in 2011 looms, Cédric Kalonji observes that:

La majorité des promesses électorales à la veille du scrutin de 2006 ne sont pas sortis de la boite à discours pour se matérialiser. La population se rend progressivement compte qu’elle a été roulée. Loin d’être dupes, honorables et excellences pensent déjà à la suite. Tous les moyens sont bons pour conserver une place au chaud, à l’abri de tous les tracas auxquels les congolais ordinaires font face au quotidien.

The majority of 2006 electoral promises haven't materialised. The population is realising it's been taken for a ride. Far from being foolish, the ‘honorables and excellencies' are already thinking ahead. No means are off-limits in order to keep a comfortable place, sheltered from all the daily hassles faced by ordinary Congolese.

July 03 2008

TERRA 435: Burning the Future: Coal in America

Do you ever wonder where the juice to charge your iPod was produced? Like over half the electricity in the United States, probably from a coal-fired power plant run on coal from the mountains of West Virginia. This reliance on coal raises a score of questions about people, land, and a region's future. In the first of a three-part series of excerpts from "Burning the Future: Coal in America", we meet some of the West Virginians affected by our country's coal policy and see some of the health and ecological costs wrought by it.

February 22 2007

January 18 2007

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