Map Your Moves: Data Visualization Challenge Submissions

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 06:00 AM

As part of our 10 Questions that Count census project, we asked you to Map Your Moves by filling out a survey where you've lived over the last ten years and why you moved. Then we asked all of you graphic designers, mappers, statisticians or any other kind of data visualization gurus, to play with the data and make the information beautiful. (More information about the Map Your Moves challenge here)

Here are the the submissions we've received. Feel free to add your thoughts below. Any favorites? Learn anything new? Share your feedback!

Submission from Adam Bortz

Bigger Version | Adam's Website

Career: Designer

What he learned from the project: “Cities are not the (cause) of our out of control middle finger to the environment, but the solution… Cities are still more sustainable per capita than anywhere else on the planet. ”


High Rents: Submission from Andrea Stranger

Bigger Version | Andrea's Website

Career: Freelance Designer

On how long it took to produce: “Probably 50 hours of work for these 3 posters.”

Why she focused on Staten Island: “I was surprised how few people reported moving to Staten Island (only 21 listeners). But there was also this one fantastic quote from a woman who gave her reason for going ...these two details inspired a whole poster. “

Montage: Submission from Andrea Stranger

Bigger Version | Andrea's Website

Career: Freelance Designer

On how long it took to produce: “Probably 50 hours of work for these 3 posters.”

Why she focused on Staten Island: “I was surprised how few people reported moving to Staten Island (only 21 listeners). But there was also this one fantastic quote from a woman who gave her reason for going ...these two details inspired a whole poster. “

Staten Island: Submission From Andrea Stranger

Bigger Version | Andrea's Website

Career: Freelance Designer

On how long it took to produce: “Probably 50 hours of work for these 3 posters.”

Why she focused on Staten Island: “I was surprised how few people reported moving to Staten Island (only 21 listeners). But there was also this one fantastic quote from a woman who gave her reason for going ...these two details inspired a whole poster. “

Manhattan Diaspora: Submission from Michael Porter
Park Slope Diaspora: Submission from Michael Porter
Interactive Visualization: Hermann Zschiegner

Flash Version | PDF Version | Hermann's Website

Career: Designer

On this project: “I knew I had only two days to spend on this project and so I had to focus on one single aspect of the data set. What interested me the most after my first look at the data was to understand the distances traveled as a result of the moves.”

"From" Word Cloud: Submission from Tim Owens

Career: Psychologist, working with children and teachers

About this project: “I am a complete amateur, just a huge fan of WNYC…The map your moves project was intriguing for me since we were points of data!”

"To" Word Cloud: Submission from Tim Owens

Career: Psychologist, working with children and teachers

About this project: “I am a complete amateur, just a huge fan of WNYC…The map your moves project was intriguing for me since we were points of data!”

Moves By Borough: Submission from Scott Leta

Bigger Version | Scott's Website

Career: Graphic Designer/Illustrator

On why this project was fun: “Some examples (of participant responses) I found most interesting: "Freedom", "Moved onto boat on Pier 25 in Manhattan", "Drug dealers in building", "The Village is vastly different from when I moved there from Oklahoma in 1960" ‘

PDF Visualization from Craig Limbert

Download PDF | Craig's Website

Career: GIS Analyst/Manager and Consultant

On the difficulties this project presented: “The data was then organized so it showed where people were moving, each person could move up to 5 times, so there were around 4,200 total moves over the ten year period from the people who submitted information”

Video Visualization: Submission from Daniel Sheehan

Watch on Youtube | Daniel's Website

How did you tackle the data? Using ArcGIS I cleaned up the database, created databases for each of the moves from 1990-2010 of the survey respondents responses, removed any of those records without proper US zip or a proper year (or I cleaned the year, ie 20005 to 2005) and then joined to ESRI US Census Zip point layers (exploded from multipoint feature class to point feature class). From this, using Hawth's tools (create line from X,Y table) and some more database table processing created From and To lines based on the unique ID and recent places 5->4, 4->3, 3->2, 2->1. Then using the Animation toolbar in ArcGIS created a video of the moves. Also, I assigned random months to the years of the moves b/c if everyone moved at the beginning of the year the animation would be boring. 

Interactive Visualization: Moritz Stafaner

Flash Version | Moritz's Website

Career: Professional Information Visualizer

About this project: “This visualization was especially interesting to me, as the underlying data consisted of many little personal stories, and had this very unique characteristic of being New York centric and globe-spanning at the same time”.

Reasons for Moving: Submission from Alexandra Muresan

Full Version | Alexandra's Website

Name: Alexandra Muresan

Career: Freelancer/Web designer/Creative

About the project: I've focused on the reasons and amount of moves, and tried to visually organize the data in ways that resemble a simplified image of a city, viewed from above, or as skyscrapers viewed from the ground


More in:

Comments [28]

Jack from Queens

I agree with Jon from New York City. Big disappointment.

Sep. 13 2010 12:24 PM
Andrea from NYC

Thanks for all the positive feedback, listeners! I just want to say how much fun (and rewarding) it was to take part in this project.

Brian Lerher and his team gave me (and the other creatives who participated) an opportunity to get involved in the community in a positive way — which can be difficult to do in such a competitive city. It's also rare to have both creative freedom and the chance to do something interesting and informative. So thanks to everyone at WNYC...can't wait to see what's next!

Sep. 09 2010 12:45 PM
Rosemary from Jackson Heights

Ozone Park is in Queens, not Brooklyn.

Sep. 09 2010 11:59 AM
Tim Owens from Lakeland, FL

Hey...I was completely surprised by this whole thing...and enjoyed doing the word/number cloud and being interviewed about it...what a hoot. You, Leonard and (please don't take offense) Howard Stern are my radio idols! The interview aired on my 50th birthday...a nice present.
Thank you Brian...

Sep. 08 2010 06:45 PM

Thanks to all the designers for their clever interpretations of the data. It's obvious they all put a lot of thought into it.

I'm really wowed by the second and third submissions from Andrea Stranger. They made me investigate her website (even more impressive) to look into hiring her for a future project, which I guess is the payback for doing excellent pro bono work for a public radio station that gives so much to the community.

Great work, everyone!

Sep. 08 2010 12:00 PM
Jon from New York City

I listen to BL's show every day and I entered the data about my moves and was looking forward to seeing the cool visualizations. I must say that I am completely disappointed. None of the graphics appear to explain or communicate much at all. Mostly they appear to be meaningless jumbles of lines, colors, and little computer graphics. They all require a great deal of effort to decode and decipher. A 3-paragraph written summary of what the data was found to contain would have been far more enlightening.

Sep. 08 2010 11:12 AM
CN from Staten Island

I love Andrea Stanger's Staten Island graphic. I laughed as soon as I saw it, because the only reason that I moved to Staten Island was because of marriage. Boy, do I miss Brooklyn Heights!!

Sep. 08 2010 10:52 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

a. deangelis from coral gables:

have a sanka.

i'm not a designer, but i not only know who tufte is, i have several of his books. i'm not going out on a limb to say that he would be ashamed to stumble upon the tone with which you're invoking his name and reputation.

Sep. 07 2010 08:42 PM
A. DeAngelis from Coral Gables FL

Well, Adam Bortz's crowded, semi-literate chart certainly looks like one of Tufte's bad examples. BL several times cited this project as a new way to display statistical information.
In an effort to make even more friends, I would like also to mention, as have others, that no one forced any of these designers to contribute--in fact it does not seem that anyone had to prove that he or she is a professional designer.

Sep. 07 2010 04:32 PM
gabriela from NJ

It is sad that graphic designers feel that way about their work. As a physician, if I decide to volunteer my time and skill in whatever project I want, my colleagues far from being offended, they will not care about what I do with it. I would be upset if the BLS was using it for profitable purposes, but this is clearly not the case, so why be so stuck in getting paid for something THEY volunteered to do?
In fact, I found this as a good way to advertise them!

Sep. 07 2010 03:49 PM
Rob from Westchester

@A. DeAngelis: Asking graphic designers if they have heard of Edward Tufte is like asking a baby boomer if they have heard of the Beatles. Tone down the condescension and look at the entries. They communicate and enlighten us in many ways about the same data set. Should they all look the same and have no artistry or spark?

Sep. 07 2010 01:55 PM
A. DeAngelis from Coral Gables FL

I haven't got the time to read all of the comments, so I apologize if this repeats an earlier posting, but: it sure looks like nobody, starting with the contest organizers, has ever heard of EDWARD TUFTE. He is an artist and designer who writes books with titles like " The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". No, BL and crew, your contest is not breaking new ground--it is in fact a visual demonstration of a surprising level of ignorance, although Strange's effort shows a possible familiarity with Tufte's work. By the way, he lives in the NYC area and has a museum, "ET Modern, open Tuesday through Saturday, 11.00am to 6.00pm, corner of W. 20th Street and 11th Avenue, in New York City's Chelsea Art District, 212 206-0300." (Web site: He was interviewed by Scott Simon 5 June 2010 on ME.

Sep. 07 2010 12:33 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

MG and Art23: those who could not participate in a public call like this to illustrate something weren't forced to participate.

half the reason for information design is to help others understand information. in this case, a not-for-profit radio station (who probably have some interesting metrics about how many listeners are actually contributing anything for its upkeep) asked listeners interested in helping illustrate a story to contribute. again, it's voluntary. that their own website dedicates itself more to function on a mean level than a lot of illustrative work should tell you that there's no personnel or budget for such efforts.

moreover, it's about creating a dialogue. radio is usually a one-way proposition, and those who participated became part of the conversation (and how often does radio have visuals to accompany it?).

the public gets to see someone's info design prowess--it's wonderful exposure for someone who's truly interested in the higher-order values of solving a public information issue. i don't remember either of you bitching about the NYC App competition (also supported by WNYC via programming). seems like hundreds, if not thousands of people were willing to help their fellow new yorkers by participating in that, without any discussion about being paid for spec work--spec work that captivated thousands of people, and again, provided the public an idea of one's talent, and a way to praise them for it.

perhaps you haven't been a designer for a long time, but throughout one's career, there's a fair amount of give and take--professionals provide a pointed idea of a solution to clients quite a lot without compensation. i've done it as a writer. more often than not, it's paid off in some way that benefits me.

i don't think the message of asking for ways to illustrate this story was for professionals to sacrifice, but to share. if there wasn't a visual component to this story, you might not have tuned in, logged on, or remembered the data. for that alone, it's been a success.

Sep. 07 2010 12:29 PM
FranciL from NYC


Sep. 07 2010 12:00 PM

What a lot of these people don't understand is that many positions in the design industry do not offer the significant and open-ended challenge that a project like this offered. Finding a 'project' or 'competition' that allows us to think outside the box, challenge ourselves and test our skills, while adding a completed 'pro-bono' piece to our portfolio (the most important item we carry when competing for a job) is often a welcome break from the monotony of our salaried jobs.. Sure, these projects are worthy of payment if that was offered in the first place, but a project like this should not simply be waived off as being exploitative.. those who didn't want to do it, DIDN'T and they should keep their opinion of those who DID choose to work on these to themselves!! WNYC is a non-profit organization, and if you don't wish to donate a bit of time and effort to an interesting little project, then better you keep your mouths shut and keep on walking. I applaud those who worked so hard on these.. You made these personal by choosing only the information you wanted to represent and offered the listeners of WNYC a wonderful visual medium to interpret those daunting numbers. I downloaded that data!! ..and believe me, it was no easy task to decipher, which is why I left the analysis to those more talented than I, and remain an appreciative observer..

Sep. 07 2010 11:00 AM
Adam Bortz from Allentown, PA

Hey Don, thanks for all the 'help' with the board man, tell me how you really feel. The submission of all your hard work looked pretty sweet by the way. Oh wait...

-And Andrea, I think your stuff looks really good, you should be pretty proud of yourself.

Sep. 07 2010 10:19 AM

I was genuinely stunned by Adam Bortz's infographic - not by its clarity, because it has none (it instead spectacuarly illustrates how overwrought design and meaningless statistical and visual noise can obscure information), but by its borderline illiteracy. The first typo barely registered with me - after all, we've had to get used to them in the New York Times in recent years too - but when almost every block of copy contains one or more spelling, grammatical, or typographic errors, accompanied by flat-out appalling "sentence" construction, it gets a little hard to ignore.

"The average time for an i dividual"? "The population density of people"? "Desision"? " lue of..?" (That's one of my favorites, not only sadly misspelled but fatally misundertood)? "A growing family was of the slowest trends to get started, but as time moves on, it's become the fastest growing trend at a rate of 57% growth"?

Really? Is Mr. Bortz 11 years old? Nope. I checked his resume; he's all growed up. So I guess it really is ultimately his fault. But somebody at your radio station read through all that and thought "Hey, this is well-expressed, concise and illuminating! Let's publish it, because there's certainly nothing here that would embarrass the poor sap who submitted it without even proofreading it in the company of someone who knows how to construct a thought and spell at the same time!" And that makes me more embarrassed for you.

Sep. 04 2010 02:11 PM
John G.

It looks like free advertising, I hope the submitters don't feel abused.

I really don't understand Adam B's overall message. It's good to be in a city because you use less oil, yet we are comparing how far away people are moving from/to in order to somehow measure oil consumption? Moving day vs. every day have different implications. If I travel 2,000 miles to go somewhere I drive less, then things look different. Obviously there are multiple sources here, but I'm not getting a clear picture from the graphic.

Sep. 03 2010 11:42 AM
Jeremy Scott Diamond from Prospect Heights

ANDREA'S IS MY FAVORITE BY FAR! Comprehensive location mapping. Fun and diverse reason mapping. And, even Staten Island gets a nod.

Sep. 02 2010 11:02 AM

Thank you, Jody, for your clarification. I still want to put this out in the open:
Despite WNYC being a terrific radio station, as a sustaining member, I'm very disappointed in the choice your team had made to deal with this project.

In response to the previous posting, there are many ways to giving back to a non-profit news organization, especially to a great one like WNYC. But letting people see and believe that a professional design work can be sourced for free is certainly not one of them.

Sep. 01 2010 07:16 PM

We understand the question of doing work for free is a significant discussion within the design community, and something we've thought about. That said, here are the reasons we went ahead with this project. For one, we are not using this as a way to solicit work we would otherwise pay for. It's an amateur challenge. Designers who wish to participate have done so, those who don't haven't. Ultimately, we trust that each designer understands his or her own motives. We understand this type of project requires significant time, effort, and skill.

Fortunately, many have found reason to participate and have enjoyed a creative opportunity. Our listeners will definitely enjoy the results. And, we've tried to highlight not just the designs but the designers. We encourage everyone to visit their sites and see their other great work.

Thank you for all your hard work, and thank you for engaging us with your honest concerns. It's that type of passion and critical thinking that we love about our audience. And, thanks for listening!

-Jody and the entire BL Team-

Sep. 01 2010 10:33 AM
Hermann Zschiegner

Dear MG,
As one of the designers who participated in the "Map Your Moves" challenge I want to thank you for your well-meaning wakeup call. Point taken - thanks, but I was wide awake already.

I do not feel abused or exploited, and neither should I. WNYC is a non-profit, public radio station and engaging with them on a pro-bono project was my way of giving back to an invaluable news source I enjoy on a daily basis.

Besides, the challenge was interesting and fun. And if people see my work as a result - keep in mind that WNYC has the largest public radio audience in the United States - than I would say that as a design professional AND a loyal listener, I did the right thing.

Hermann Zschiegner

Aug. 31 2010 08:43 AM

there are some beautiful work here but these are sourced for free! You are abusing and exploiting us designers!

And come on -- You designers who posted work -- WAKE UP!! You are desperate enough to do free work but for OVER 50 HOURS OF YOUR TIME???????????? That is worth more than $1000 for a fresh-out-of school designer!!!

When your car breaks down do you get it fixed for free? Of course not!! Same idea applies to designers who were presented with a problem to solve!

How cheap can us PROFESSIONAL designers be? We don't have to feed ourselves anymore?Please don't do this again!

These posters don't even have the complete information--thereby defeats the journalistic purpose of gathering the data in the first place.

I am deeply sad and disappointed in WNYC taking this kind of *crowd sourcing* approach to deal with the reality! and it is extremely sad that this has become the state of the graphic design industry-- we are not being respected enough by the public!

Aug. 30 2010 03:10 PM
Smith from Brooklyn, NY

All so literal – perhaps that was the point, but I wish the designs on a whole addressed a larger singular vision. That said, Adam's moon and state diagrams are interesting additions. Any plans to extend the deadline?

Aug. 22 2010 07:18 PM
CNN from Westchester

Muresan's graphic lends itself really well to an NYC real estate/Monopoly-type board game. Rules are simple: roll the dice, see what spot you've landed on (bedbugs, high taxes, landlord from hell). By the end of the game, the winner is whomever managed to stay in the neighborhood where they started.
Once upon a time, progress would have meant moving "up" (or "out" to the suburbs), but in this economy, in this city, if you can just stay in place, you're actually going fwd...

Aug. 20 2010 01:05 AM

Art23 - Good question, and a complicated one. We're going to post a little about our goal of the project and why we decided to structure it the way it is soon. Just wanted to let you know we weren't ignoring your comment.

Joanne - Sorry you feel that way.

-BL Show-

Aug. 18 2010 02:49 PM
joanne stefanacci from orange cty

perhaps they should have had the artists design the questionnaire...really poor work there!

Aug. 18 2010 12:12 PM

Why don't you pay people to do this? You're asking NYC artists to contribute to your website for free??????????????????

Aug. 18 2010 11:48 AM

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