This atomic bomb news app was played almost 1 million times

I guess this would be the most viral online content I’ve ever created in my life.

This news app “What if your hometown were hit by the Hiroshima atomic bomb?” I created for was played almost one million times by users all over the world. (There’s a newer version with some improved features.) It has been cited and reproduced by over 30 websites (I’ve stop tracking the number but simple Googling can show you some of them) in various languages.

I’ve been tracking the use of the app since it was published and it is now clocking at 850,000++. I even made an animated map to show when and where the bombs were dropped.

What’s the thought behind it? While researching for stories in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, I came across some data on the damages caused by the atomic bomb. I could have done a straightforward story by listing a bunch of numbers about the death toll and other damages probably with some charts or infographics, but I asked myself a question: How can I use the information or data I have to help readers put themselves in the shoes of the victims? The answer led to the news app.

This news app also serves at a gateway to many other great stories done by my colleagues on the anniversary collected in the series called Hiroshima Generations.





Interactive: San Diego Comic-Con By the Numbers

I produced this interactive chart + infographic on San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 (SDCC), the largest comic conference in the US,  during my summer stint with NBC Local Media as a data intern.

It was selected by Tableau Public as the Viz of the Day.

The instruction from the editors was simple: find some information about SDCC and put together an infographic.  But I wanted to make some thing more than that. I was curious about the history of the event and the journey it took to reach today’s popularity. So I started to collect data but one important data is missing – the ticket prices of previous conferences. I decided to build that data myself and went through a long and tedious online searching process, going from one website to another to find and verify the ticket prices of all the previous conferences since 2000. Together with other readily available data, I visualized it using Tableau Public, one of my favorite data visualization tools as it is free and user friendly.

I also found some old SDCC logos from the official website and thought it would be fun to explore SDCC’s history through visual. I used JCarousel, a jQuery plugin to build my first photo carousel. Anyone with some basic HTML and CSS skill should be able to make it work.

Then I wrap the two components with the infographic that I made using free online infographic making tool Piktochart and Adobe Photoshop in a box, uploaded it into my Github account and embedded in NBC website as an iframe.

Mission accomplished!

Visit the full story here.

NYC Mayoral Election 2013 Voting Map

This is the first data visualization project I made together with my amazing classmates at NYU’s Studio 20 grad program for Bedford+Bowery, a hyperlocal website operated by NYU journalism students . We polled 318 New Yorkers living in Bedford & Bowery area about their views on the 2013 NYC Mayoral election, and plotted their responses on a map using Google Fusion Tables!

I was assigned to find the tool to produce the map we want and transfer all data to the map. Goole Fusion Tables turned out to be the easiest tool for non-coder (I had yet to learn coding then). However I faced 2 challenge:

  1. Finding a map file (SHP or KML) that has the neighborhood boundaries of our project i.e. Bushwick, Williamsburg, LES/Chinatown, East Village and Greenpoint. After some searches, we realized there’s no such map because census map does not divide the area in such a way.
  2. Putting 2 layers of data – one shows the response of each respondent (each dot) and another one that shows the collective response of each neighborhood.

To solve the first issue, we drew and created our own map file using Google’s My Maps. The interface was surprisingly easier than we thought.

The second issue, which was assigned to me, is trickier. To overlap 2 layers of maps created by Google Fusion Tables, I have to use a Google API called Fusion Tables Layer which requires coding skill. Luckily someone has created a front-end interface called FusionTablesLayer Wizard (bookmark this!) that makes life easier for non-coders! All you need is just copy and paste the links of your Fusion Tables Maps, and select the customization options.

Mission accomplished!

Visit the full story here.

Visualizing Weibo Censored Words of 2013

This is a data visualization project aims to shed light on the words censored by Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent in 2013. It is a well-known fact that the China government censors its Internet content, including the postings and messages on Weibo, the most popular micro-blogging platform in the country. This project attempts to provide a more comprehensive insight of China’s Internet censorship trend including what, when and why certain words on Weibo are banned by the authority.

It was jointly produced with another NYU Studio 20 grad student John Zongmin Chow as one of our class projects. As we had yet to learn coding then, we used free front-end dataviz tools i.e. Tableau Public,  TimelineJS and InfoActive to produce the dataviz. We built a website using Wix to host all our dataviz and share our methodology and findings. It was a great learning process and this project had led me into the exciting world of data journalism. In the next semester, both of us took a class in data journalism.

After sharing our project in NICAR listserv, Foreign Policy approached us hoping to publish the project on its website. However the plan fell through eventually as Foreign Policy has problem dealing with external code.

We plan to update the data for 2014 and, yes, we are still looking for organization to publish this project.

View the project website here.

Top Malaysian Politicians Use Offshore Secrecy

This is an international joint investigation project between and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on secret offshore accounts in 2013. I was part of the 4-member team from Malaysiakini. Digging deep into a leaked database obtained by ICIJ, we found that government officials including a cabinet minister and their families and associates (the son of former prime minister) in Malaysia have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.

Read the full story here.