Archive for Demographics

Geography of Personality

Map clip - geography of personality

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries the article, The United States of Mind: Researchers Identify Regional Personality Traits Across America which discusses findings published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

In A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics researchers from  the University of Cambridge,  University of Texas at Austin, and Atof Inc. “present a theoretical account of the mechanisms through which geographic variation in psychological characteristics emerge and persist within regions.” The study maps personality traits by geography alongside geographic indicators of crime, employment, health, social capital, religiosity, and political values.

The study found fascinating correlations, such as high-anxiety states having higher rates of heart disease and lower life expectancy. See the cool interactive map and decide whether you fit your state’s rankings.

Super Tuesday, Lousy Maps?

NY Times Democratic Primary ResultsThe U.S. primary election yesterday took place in 24 states on what is called Super Tuesday. Of course the day is super important for those trying to become the next president. The event begs for maps to show us what’s going on before, during, and after. Unfortunately, the popular news Web sites as a group do a rather poor job. Here’s my quick take on what’s out there.

Elections are a great time for people to learn about places and their differences. Elections bring out not only the political differences in people, but the differences in people located in different places. Only maps can adequately portray these differences. There is additional detail beyond who wins and loses that someone should map – breakdowns by gender, age, nationality, income, and other demographics. It is impossible to understand what is happening politically in this country without good maps. If only there were more of them.

The Good

The Wall Street Journal puts the map on the top of its main page, with one tab each for the Democrats and Republicans. States are colored shades of blue for the Democrat one and red for the Republican maps, with different shades of those colors indicating the winners. On both maps, by hovering over the colored states that voted, one gets a simple text of the winner or projected winners from both parties. No numbers appear – sometimes simple is better. Nicely done, with a lot of information in a small space, but in a way that makes visual sense and gives people what they need to know.

The New York Times has a few maps hanging off its “Election Guide 2008” page. One links to results details, with separate U.S. maps of both party contests. These maps are big and loaded with information on them and on tables next to them. Click on a state and zoom into a state view with county results shown. The colors are pleasing and the information detailed. A second map shows primary dates, using maps and other graphics to show the distribution. Again here, lots of information and great design work. A third set of maps shows campaign finances by candidate and by location. Plus one can view an animation showing how the financial contributions changed over time. Fascinating material here is not found elsewhere. The Times has by far the best maps I came across.

The Bad

CNN focused on Read more

URISA Still Relevant


Last week I attended the 45th Annual Conference of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) in Washington D.C. at what locals call “The Hinckley Hilton” because John Hinckley shot President Reagan there in 1981. While that is long forgotten by many, URISA conferences preceded the shooting by 14 years, holding its first conference in 1967 in Garden City, NY after formation in 1966. About 600 attended the conference and discussed a range of pressing topics concerning what most of them call geographic information systems (GIS).

The practitioners who attended are in tough environments. They work mostly for state and local governments as providers and maintainers of services as well as information used to make many important decisions. Most are tasked with improving the availability of geospatial information and services yet have limited resources to do so. With the increasing need for emergency planning, for example, information demands come from many quarters. However, concerns abound about Read more

300 Million Potential U.S. Consumers – Do you know where they are?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this morning at 7:46 AM (EDT), the U.S. reached a milestone, hitting the 300 million mark in total population.

By now, most everyone has heard the news as everyone from the Census Bureau to the Wall Street Journal to 60 Minutes’ Andy Rooney has publicized the number. Should businesses care about this milestone? After all, it’s just a round number.

With all of the hype about the 300 million, there is scant mention of the geographic distribution of those people or the other associated geography issues. (For example, a Technorati search of blog posts shows more than 7000 English language posts on the milestone but only about 100 mention geography.) But does the geographic distribution of those 300 million people matter to business? I think so. First, Read more