Yali’s Question: why we had so little cargo of our own?

Yali’s famous question from the book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

“All of those things must have been on Yali’s mind when, with yet another penetrating glance of his flashing eyes, he asked me, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?“ ““ pg 14


“The, questions about inequality (Yali’s question) in the modern world can be reformulated as follows. Why did wealth and power become distributed as they are now, rather than in some other way? For instance, why weren’t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and Asians?“ ““ pg 16

and the conclusion

“Yali’s question went to the heart of the current condition, and of post-Pleistocene human history”¦ how shall we answer Yali? I would say to Yali: the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environments.“ ““ pg 405

Ecosystems matter. Our environment matters. And in fact it becomes a matter of human rights in the long term. Yali was a wise man.

Visualization of Social Issues – Block by Block and Random Visuals

Cadoracharles_swartzVia this post on we-make-money-not-art, to the left is an awesome map indicating the cost, by block, of incarceration.  The map is a graphic by Eric Cadora and Charles Swartz helps you understand visually the expense of lack of education and incarceration.

The artists clearly thought about visual representation and included source data (Tufte emphasizes source for legitimacy regardless of authenticity).

On the flip side, the actual project web site is close to unusable with all links launching frames without an address bar.  What were they thinking?

If you force the issue with "open in new window" you can dig down into additional graphics on social issues like this one, or this one

F_kurgan_tlyang_sp05_06While the visuals are compelling, I am not sure about how intuitive the communication of issues is for a user who is not motivated to review and read the legend at length.

This design does require the user to work and renders the information secondary to the display, which is not an ideal result.

Keyword Density of Presidential State of the Union Addresses 1996 to 2006

The political graphs below are word counts of interesting words and phrases from Presidential State of the Union speeches from 1996 to 2006.  This is mostly an exercise in political keyword density calculations and fun with graphs.  I manually added similar terms like "Iraq" and "Iraqi" or "terrorist" and "terrorists" (note the "s") in the Excel file.


This first graph compares Iraq vs Terrorist vs Saddam vs Al Qaeda.

The method was to locate a web based version of primarily text (print view in this case) from the state of the union addresses.   The date range was 10 years and includes both the Bush presidency and a portion of Clinton’s presidency.  The range was an arbitrary decision. 

I was able to find the last five years (Bush) state of the union addresses on whitehouse.gov but prior to that found the remaining speeches at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php.  As a result, there are some differences in the data from other text on the HTML pages.  To really repeat this micro-study you would want to isolate the content without any navigation or reference links.

Sousocialprogramskeywords This graph shows a variety of terms related to social services including; tax (es), Health, economy, budget, social security, medicare, retirement

I do suggest that speech writers and public relations professionals run their content through keyword density generators to verify they are ON MESSAGE.  Yes clearly the content should be written in natural language that focuses on your political objective, but it doesn’t hurt to hit a link to verify how google views your content.

The full Excel file with the graphs and source data is posted below if you want to remix it or double check the content.  Be sure to check all of the tabs with the pasted versions of the SEO keywords.

Download schipul_state_of_the_union_keywords.xls

And here are the links to the state of the union speeches by date.

23-Jan-96 SoU, 4-Feb-97 SoU, 27-Jan-98 SoU, 19-Jan-99 SoU, 27-Jan-00 SoU, 27-Feb-01 SoU, 29-Jan-02 SoU, 28-Jan-03 SoU, 20-Jan-04 SoU, 2-Feb-05 SoU, 31-Jan-06 SoU

SouparsingtoolAnd speaking of visualization, while researching this post I came across the State of the Union Parsing tool which has some nice visualization as well.  Definitely worth a visit if you are into the whole politics crossed with search engine optimization and messaging thing.