Posts Tagged ‘washington’

Award for Taxi Fare Estimator (Kelso)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The Washington Post won 5 bronze awards in the Malofiej Infographics competition (SND Spain), including one for my interactive graphic District Taxi Fare Estimator published in January 2008.

Full list of Washington Post winners (all print except mine):

  • Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton for U.S. History of Black Politicians
  • Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman for Recession 101
  • Brenna Maloney and Todd Lindeman for explanation of the high price of oil/gas
  • April Umminger and Laura Stanton for the fireworks preview page
  • Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso for the District Taxi Fare Estimator interactive

Read my post on how the interactive was created . . .

The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers (The Nation)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Somewhat depressing article from The Nation examines how many major cities across the US face the prospect of loosing their daily newspapers and what that could mean for journalism and democracy in America. Thanks Todd!]

Republished from The Nation.
by JOHN NICHOLS & ROBERT W. MCCHESNEY
March 18, 2009 (April 6, 2009 print edition)

RELATED: Former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie discusses the future of newspapers on CSPAN.

Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States.

After years of neglecting signs of trouble, elite opinion-makers have begun in recent months to recognize that things have gone horribly awry. Journals ranging from TimeThe New YorkerThe Atlantic and The New Republic to the New York Times and theLos Angeles Times concur on the diagnosis: newspapers, as we have known them, are disintegrating and are possibly on the verge of extinction. Time‘s Walter Isaacson describes the situation as having “reached meltdown proportions” and concludes, “It is now possible to contemplate a time in the near future when major towns will no longer have a newspaper and when magazines and network news operations will employ no more than a handful of reporters.” A newspaper industry that still employs roughly 50,000 journalists–the vast majority of the remaining practitioners of the craft–is teetering on the brink.

Blame has been laid first and foremost on the Internet, for luring away advertisers and readers, and on the economic meltdown, which has demolished revenues and hammered debt-laden media firms. But for all the ink spilled addressing the dire circumstance of the ink-stained wretch, the understanding of what we can do about the crisis has been woefully inadequate. Unless we rethink alternatives and reforms, the media will continue to flail until journalism is all but extinguished.

Let’s begin with the crisis. In a nutshell, media corporations, after running journalism into the ground, have determined that news gathering and reporting are not profit-making propositions. So they’re jumping ship. The country’s great regional dailies–the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, theMinneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer–are in bankruptcy. Denver’s Rocky Mountain Newsrecently closed down, ending daily newspaper competition in that city. The owners of the San Francisco Chronicle, reportedly losing $1 million a week, are threatening to shutter the paper, leaving a major city without a major daily newspaper. Big dailies in Seattle (the Times), Chicago (the Sun-Times) and Newark (the Star-Ledger) are reportedly near the point of folding, and smaller dailies like the Baltimore Examiner have already closed. The 101-year-old Christian Science Monitor, in recent years an essential source of international news and analysis, is folding its daily print edition. The Seattle Post-Intelligenceris scuttling its print edition and downsizing from a news staff of 165 to about twenty for its online-only incarnation. Whole newspaper chains–such as Lee Enterprises, the owner of large and medium-size publications that for decades have defined debates in Montana, Iowa and Wisconsin–are struggling as the value of stock shares falls below the price of a single daily paper. And the New York Times needed an emergency injection of hundreds of millions of dollars by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in order to stay afloat.

Continue reading at The Nation . . .

Interactive: Obama’s Appointments (Kelso via Wash Post)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

[Editor’s note: I did the Flash ActionScript 3 programming behind Head Count: Tracking Obama’s Appointments. This ambitious, collaborative database-driven project tracks the Obama administration’s senior political appointments and will be kept up-to-date with the latest happenings. A look at some of the interactive features you can find at washingtonpost.com/headcount.]

Interactive graphic and database by Sarah Cohen, Karen Yourish, Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso, Ryan O’Neil, Paul Volpe, Sarah Sampsel and Laura Stanton.

This project draws on concepts from these two blog posts in particular: It Ain’t Easy To Get A Newspaper To Provide Useful Data (TechDirt) and The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady (NY Times).

Republished from The Washington Post

Heads Pop Up and Heads Roll: Let’s Keep Track.
By Al Kamen; Wednesday, March 18, 2009; Page A11

Today we launch Head Count, The Washington Post’s interactive database to help you keep a sharp eye on the people President Obama is appointing to the nearly 500 top positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. The new feature will not only tell you who they are but also help you count all the demographic beans — age, sex, ethnicity, education (elite schools or not), home states and so on.

At http://www.washingtonpost.com/headcount, you can search agency by agency to determine which jobs are still open, should your private-sector job be looking a little shaky these days. You can also search by individual to determine how many officials in this “change” administration are merely retreads from the Clinton days.

And Head Count will give some clues to help answer everyone’s perennial question: How did that fool get that great job? It will also tell you who paid good, hard money or bundled huge sums for Obama/Biden, who worked on the campaign, who had the coveted Harvard Law connection, hailed from Chicago or was a pal of Michelle Obama, Tom Daschle or Ted Kennedy.

The appointments that are tracked by Head Count do not include judges, ambassadors, U.S. attorneys or U.S. marshals. We’ll monitor those separately. Nor does the database include the many important officials who are not confirmed by the Senate. We’ll be tweaking the database as we go, adding new categories, such as veterans, and making other additions.

Loop Fans can help! If you’ve got information we could use or suggestions about how to improve the site, please submit comments and updates at the link provided on the Head Count Web site.

NOMINATING PARTY

The White House personnel logjam — also known as the Great Daschle Debacle — appears to have been broken. Team Obama’s nominations operation began at a record pace. But IRS problems sparked Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle‘s withdrawal on Feb. 3, leading to a general revetting of nominees that stalled everything.

The numbers are startling. Obama, by the end of his first week in office, had announced 47 nominees for senior-most jobs. He’d officially nominated 37 of them, according to data compiled by New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service Presidential Transition Project. (That number includes some holdovers.)

But in the month after Daschle’s withdrawal, the White House announced only 10 candidates for Senate-confirmed positions and formally nominated only six people.

In the next three weeks, however, the pace ramped up sharply, with 42 nominees named. Official nominations have been slower — only 27 during that time. But there were 15 last week, and we’re told there are plenty in the pipeline. As of yesterday, there were 39 Senate-confirmed individuals on the job. (That includes seven holdovers.)

The push now is to get as many nominees up to the Senate — and get confirmation for the three dozen or so already up there — before the Senate slithers out of town on April 3.

View the interactive at The Washington Post . . .

Wayfinding: Here, Even Icons Need IDs (Wash Post)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Maps are most useful when held in the hand and referenced while in a landscape. But sometimes it is hard to match the abstract map topology with what is literally just in front of us. Or maybe the map was left at home. Maps are best when combined with confirmatory signage (direct annotation) in the landscape itself. These signs should have prominent, frequent placement and be easy to read. Signage that is small and/or discrete is pointless.

This article from the Washington Post explores the National Park Service’s proposal for better signage along the National Mall in the District, swarmed all year long with tourists who have no clue where they are or what they’re looking at.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Monday, March 16, 2009; Page B01
Also see John Kelly’s blog post on signage in the Metro rail subways.

Park Service Wants Tourist-Friendly Signs for Mall Monuments

The two Belgian tourists paused on the pathway near the Washington Monument to answer a question.

Could they identify the towering white obelisk before them?

They examined their map. “We think, the Ellipse,” said Dien Haemhouts, 24, of Antwerp. Told their mistake, they laughed. “Ah, the Washington Monument,” Haemhouts said. “Okay.”

It was understandable. They had never been to Washington before. There was no sign nearby identifying the monument. And so the two tourists found themselves in the midst of a fresh debate: Do icons like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial need signs announcing what they are?

The National Park Service, which is about to install an extensive new system of signs on the Mall, says yes. Many foreign and American tourists have no clue what they’re looking at or what to expect when they arrive, the Park Service says. Officials say, for example, that they often get calls from the public asking if there is a Nordstrom on the Mall.

But some members of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which must approve the new sign system, as well as American tourists interviewed on a cold day last week, say no to such signs. “Just looking at it,” Minnie Glenn, 50, of Park Hall, Md., said of the monument. “It’s self-defining.”

The debate arises as the Mall is about to get a new $2.2 million sign system, funded by the federal government and the private Trust for the National Mall. Design research is underway, with a view to replacing the mishmash of signs on the Mall with a more uniform and user-friendly system that will probably use a series of color-coded pylons.

“There are hundreds of mismatched signs on the Mall,” Wayne Hunt, whose firm is researching the new system, told the arts commission last month at a meeting where proposed signs were reviewed. “The Lincoln Memorial has 44 mismatched signs.”

Across the Mall, there are signs with directions, signs with warnings, signs with rules. “Please Stay on the Sidewalks,” reads one at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “Quiet” is called for at the Lincoln Memorial. “No Guns or Ammunition,” says one near the Washington Monument.

When the question of formal signs came up, several commission members said signs seemed unnecessary and would be a blot on the landscape. “What does it say in front of the pyramids?” Pamela Nelson, vice chairman, wondered of Egypt’s famous tombs. “Is there a sign in front of the pyramids?”

Commission member Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk asked: “Do you need a sign in front of the Washington Monument? I don’t think so.”

In a letter to the Park Service, commission Secretary Thomas E. Luebke wrote that the commission “strongly discouraged the use of the monument-type sign to identify buildings and memorials on the National Mall.”

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

Housing Market State by State (Wash Post)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

[Editor's note: This graphic mixes a free-form Dorling cartogram with a bar chart. Both examine the same nominal geographic data but the bar chart shows "underwater" mortgages as a percent of all mortgages while the cartogram shows the same by total per state. Since most US state choropleth maps are simply visual lists, this graphic dispenses with the map entirely and examines the thematic data through two lenses to show two different results.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
March 5, 2009.
Graphic by Todd Lindeman and Laura Stanton.
Related story >>

At least one in five U.S. mortgage holders – or about 8.3 million households – owed more on their mortgages by the end of 2008 than their homes were worth, sometimes called “underwater.”

SOURCE: First American CoreLogic | The Washington Post – March 5, 2009

U.S. Launches Wide-Ranging Plan to Steady Housing Market
$75 Billion Plan Would Help Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 5, 2009; Page A01

The Obama administration yesterday sketched in the details of its most ambitious attempt to reduce foreclosures and stabilize the beleaguered housing market at the root of the economic meltdown.

The program has two key elements: a refinancing program for borrowers with little equity in their homes but current on their loans, and a $75 billion program to help reduce mortgage payments for struggling borrowers.

Several large lenders praised the program, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo. There were also converts among those outside the industry. “I was skeptical at first, but I think these guidelines are helpful in a lot of ways,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit group that has been critical of industry efforts to modify mortgages.

Homeowners with loans as large as $729,750 could see their interest rates temporarily cut to as low as 2 percent under the program. The administration also said it will add new incentives to persuade lenders that hold second mortgages to give up their claims, further lowering homeowners’ debt obligations. While the Obama administration initially said it would focus on owner-occupied properties, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they would refinance loans for some second homes and investment properties, too.

That the programs would apply to mortgages worth up to $729,750 throughout the country and not just in high-priced regions surprised some industry officials who praised the move. “It will allow us to help more borrowers, especially those who have been hit hardest by the current crisis,” said John A. Courson, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Taking the Train: The Most Used Subway Systems in the US and Around the World (Good Magazine)

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

[Editor’s note: This chart needs a per capita analysis and comparable accounting of subway milages but is super fun any how. Click image above for larger view, or follow link below. Happy birthday Katie Rose!]

Republished from Good magazine.
Orig pub date: Feb. 17, 2009.

Even though subways are a fuel-efficent way to move people around congested urban areas, Americans make poor use of them, probably because they are poorly funded and often don’t travel where we want to go. Right now, of the five most-used subway systems in the country, only New York City’s attracts as many riders as the five largest foreign subway systems.

A collaboration between GOOD and Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

View the original graphic | blog post.

MAPublisher 8.0 Training in Washington, DC Area (Avenza)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

[Editor's note: For East Coast cartographers wanting to know more about MaPublisher 8.0 including new Flash web map export, Avenza is offering a 2 day training in the Washington DC area in late March 2009. More information, including registration link, after the jump.]

(more…)

Cheney Leaves VP Residence, Takes Pixelated Google Map with Him (GizModo)

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: At first I thought this was pure humor but, for whatever reason, Google Maps does indeed now show detailed resolution at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, aka Cheney's secret hideout #1.]

Republished from Gizmodo.
By Mark Wilson, 12:10 PM on Mon Jan 26 2009

Google Maps’ satellite imagery has shown us clear shots of the White House, the Capitol and even the Pentagon. But one thing it never displayed properly was Dick Cheney’s house. Until now.

The Vice President’s quarters, located at the Naval Observatory since 1974, have been pixelated ever since Google has given the public an easy way to check them out—coincidentally ever since Dick Cheney has lived there. This censorship wasn’t by Google but those supplying Google the source images, the U.S. Geological Survey.

Now on the same week of Biden’s arrival, we’re suddenly allowed to see the VP’s house as clearly as the President’s. Who knows the exact reason for Cheney’s extra security…maybe he’d been nervous about the public catching wind of his Mini Cheney clone farm, or maybe he’s just prone to gardening in his shorts despite being self-conscious about his varicose veins. [Valleywag]

iPhone + National Park = Request for Proposals (Kelso)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Attention iPhone software developers! The National Park Service is soliciting proposals to create a National Mall mobile wayfinding protoype, otherwise known as an iPhone app!

It is a rather ambitious, forward-looking  project that will depend on the contractor to propose technological and design solutions. The product would serve as a template for creating similar products of other urban park sites.

The request originates out of the Harpers Ferry, WV office of the Park Service. Check out the full solicitation with contact information.

Excerpts from the Solicitation and Scope of Work documents:

Independently, and not as an agent of the government, the contractor shall provide all labor, equipment, materials and services necessary to conceptualize, design, produce, test, and install a fully functional mobile wayfinding prototype of the National Mall in accordance with the attached Scope of Work consisting of 15 pages.

The NPS recognizes that creating a mobile map prototype is a new, complex, and highly specialized undertaking that requires expertise in numerous disciplines, including cartography, database development, interface design, interactive programming, 3-D modeling, wireless networking, mobile phone application development, etc. The mobile map prototype envisioned for the National Mall is perhaps the first of its kind.

The National Mall is the heart of the Nation’s Capital and of the entire United States of America. Here, the nation celebrates, honors, and demonstrates its commitment to democracy.

The Mall stretches 2.2 miles from the grounds of the United States (U.S.) Capitol west to the Potomac River, and from the Tidal Basin north to Constitution Avenue. It is home to the great symbols of our country—national icons such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. It also includes memorials to the veterans of Vietnam, the Korean War, and World War II, as well as lesser-known memorials to American heroes, such as the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Mason, and John Paul Jones. The National Mall also boasts beautiful open spaces such as the Tidal Basin, where the blossoming of thousands of cherry trees heralds spring.

Over 25 million people visit the Mall each year with 60% arriving by public transport and traversing the park on foot.

Site navigation by pedestrians in urban national parks in general is a long-standing problem. For example, at the National Mall, visitors emerging from a Washington Metro subway station into bright sunlight first must orient themselves before setting off to their destination. Finding lesser-known sites scattered throughout the Mall, such as the John Ericsson Memorial, is a challenge despite the availability of paper maps, wayside exhibits, signs, and other traditional media. The growing popularity of smart mobile devices – devices with GPS, Internet connectivity, touch-screen interfaces, and powerful graphics capabilities – promises a solution to this problem.

Applications are due by 02/12/2009. Looks like the Park Service would like to roll out a final app (free in the iTunes story? they don’t say) by next year in January (2010). Fixed Price contact to the software developer. Get coding!

Map: Walking to the Inauguration (Wash Post)

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Continuing coverage of Obama inauguration on January 20th, 2009. Unprecedented crowds are expected, severely disrupting commuting patterns. If you are within two miles of the National Mall experts say to walk to your destination (and expect security checkpoints around the Mall itself). Other coverage includes: overview map, ticketed seating, special bus corridors, and road closures and parking restrictions.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

The bad news: Witnessing this historic occasion in person will require a bit of a schlep. The good news: Officials say pedestrians will be allowed to go just about everywhere. So what about those who have to park their cars and venture over the Potomac and Anacostia rivers on foot for the first time? Put on your sturdy shoes, grab a wind-resistant jacket and climb down into this guide to walking over the 10 bridges into the District of Columbia. — Reporting by Bonnie Berkowitz

SOURCES: U.S. Secret Service, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, D.C. Department of Transportation

NOTE: Closures and corridors are subject to change at the discretion of security officials.

Graphic By Laris Karklis — The Washington Post