The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Historical population data, visualized

Citylab's Map of the Day today comes from Northeastern University history professor Benjamin Schmidt. It visualizes population data from three data sets, one of which came from a single Wikipedia editor:

This is a narrative description of the city populations dataset I’ve assembled for the Creating Data project. The headline here is: Wikipedia editors have created a much more comprehensive database of American city and town populations than historians have had to this point.

I’m writing it up separately and releasing it before any other components of the project for two reasons. First, the data is useful: there are a wide variety of fields where a more comprehensive, long-term database of city sizes is useful, and I’ve already spoken to a few people for whom it might be useful. (If you wish to download the data, you can do it from the github site for this dataset.)

Second, I wanted to use it to try a beta launch for some of the narrative display elements of this project. I’m trying something here that’s a central part of the full project: finding ways to explore through historical data that allow both narrative and exploratory data analysis.

It's one of the most interesting geographic data visualizations I've seen in a while. You don't have to be a geography nerd to enjoy it.

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