Brendan Sudol
April 2015

United States of Animation

Made a little visualization that morphs the United States into a scatterplot:

I used this example by Mike Bostock for the general shape tweening technique. It took a bit of munging to apply this pattern to all 50 states because several states are not just one connected polygon but also contain many smaller non-contiguous pieces (e.g., Long Island in New York). To correct for this and simplify the problem, I find and plot only the largest polygon in each state and then interpolate these shapes into circles (if you look fast, you’ll see that Hawaii is missing a few of its islands…sorry, Maui!). Finally, I replace the circle-shaped SVG paths with actual SVG circles and move them to their proper scatterplot positions.

In the end, I think the animation is fun and pretty but I’m not sure it’s very meaningful in terms of enhancing understanding. Though if it peaks your interest enough to look at the resulting chart, I think that’s a win.

My code that produces the above visualization is here.