When I tell people I am working on a project about protests, the most common response is a nod and a question about Berkeley, California. But protest doesn’t belong to Berkeley, or Washington, DC. One of the most rewarding parts of the project was seeing what people protested about in West Virginia’s state capital, Salt Lake City, Utah, small towns in Massachusetts, and my current home base of Miami, Florida.
For the full story on protests, check out Points of Light. Here’s how I made the graphics.
I started this project almost a year ago: I began mucking around with the protest data as a way to become more fluent in R, fell in love, made a bunch of static graphics, decided they had to be animated, made a bunch of gifs, realized they needed to be interactive, and put the project away in a huff, muttering about “work-life balance” and “priorities” and “achievable goals.”
Fast forward a semester, a summer, and a switch in programs. I picked the protest data up again for my Data Visualization Studio class.Anything I did with it was for class. Nothing was too ambitious or time-consuming if it was for class. School comes first, after all! So I chugged some books on D3.js, did a speed-run on basic web development, and here we are.
The protest data itself comes from Count Love, which aggregates, categorizes, and publishes data about protests in America. You can read more about their process here. There are some limits to the dataset, of course—it’s based on news articles, so any protest not covered by the media won’t be included, and data collection began in January 2017, so it’s not possible to compare protests across presidential administrations. On the whole, though, it’s an incredibly cool data source, with remarkably clean, well-organized, and easy-to-access data.
Way back at the start of the semester, I wrote a little post about why this project mattered to me. Everything I wrote there still applies.