Marathon Map

By Judy Chang, Andrew Mikofalvy, Eric Lau, and Kenny Friedman

The Setup

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.40.23 PMEach year, people from across the country travel to Boston to run in the
marathon. By grouping runners by state, and then averaging the times of the runners per state, it is possible to compare the running ability of each state. For this project, our group has done just that.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.40.46 PMWe have three goals in mind for this project. First, and most generally, we hope the map increases excitement about the Boston marathon. Second, and more tangibly, we want to increase state pride and state camaraderie. Marathon running is a very individual sport, which can at times feel isolating and lonely. By grouping runners by state, we hope to introduce a local-area support network. We hope runners from a given state will help each other and increase a sense of community. Third, and most concretely, we want to show runners how well their state performs and provide them resources to help them increase their state’s performance. For example, a link might be provided to a local marathon to practice and meet other runners from the same state.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.50.48 PMTherefore, our audience is marathon runners who have not yet run the Boston marathon, or running enthusiasts, from all 50 states. Our Call to Action is to improve the user’s state-average by providing resources to help runners improve their time and join local runners. Our call to action leverages viewers’ aforementioned sense of state pride by encouraging them to learn more about and potentially join a local marathon. There, they will hopefully qualify and join other runners from their state in next year’s Boston marathon.

The Map

Our creative map is part of a website, available here. When a user first goes to our site, they are asked to enter their state acronym. Next, the user is presented with a map outlining the Boston marathon. There are nodes that are shown moving down the marathon. Each node represents a state, and the amount of time that state takes to complete is shown as a race between the states. Then, once the animation is complete, information about how well the user’s state did is displayed along with a link to a local marathon in which the user could participate.

Future Additions / Improvements

Of course this is a rough sketch, and there are always improvements to be had with more time. Specifically, we would want to add many more resources for local runners to meet up and help each other train. Then, we would want to augment the map with more qualitative information, such as the elapsed time as you are watching the animation. Lastly, we would like to add a second, US map, in which a user could hover over a given state. Hovering over the state would highlight the corresponding node would highlight, and vise versa. We discussed these ideas and many others, but were time limited.


We fielded data from a variety of sources, including:

  • Our map of the Boston Marathon: here
  • The statistics of the 2016 Boston Marathon: here
  • Average & Finish Times of the Boston Marathon: here
  • List of Marathons in a Given State: here

Our site

What is Immigration

By Maddie Kim, Andrew Mikofalvy, and Kenny Friedman

The Set Up

unnamed-2Life as a refugee is often extremely difficult, from having to leave your friends and relatives, to fear of persecution. Many factors that should not matter to the successful application to this country do make a difference on the likelihood of making it to the United States. As we’ve seen in the past, the US has more than enough resources to increase the number of refugees that it accepts. However, recent legislation is attempting to do the opposite. The Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee recently introduced an act to place further restrictions on refugees, making fewer resources available and lowering the annual accepted number of people.

unnamedWith this game, we hope to demonstrate the difficulty of refugees trying entering this country , and display how much harder it would be if this bill is passed. The game will be played outside of the Massachusetts State Capitol Building. Our audience is US citizens living in the Boston Area. We want people from around the area to see the game being played in close proximity to the offices of the representatives. Our call to action is to have players and observers call their local representatives and ask them to vote no on the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act. We also suggest the audience should alert their public officials of the current biases in refugee acceptance, and request updated anti-discrimination legislation. We begin the exhibition in Boston because we are local, however this game could easily be played in a similar manner in many cities around the country.

The Game

unnamed-1The objective of the game is to win by successfully applying for refuge to the United States. To begin the game, everyone stands in a line, a certain distance (scaled based on the size of the playing area) from the goal line. Each person is assigned a character, with a unique backstory (the backstory is written on a player card that they are handed). Then, the moderator asks the players a series of questions. Based on the answer to those questions, the player steps forward (closer to the goal line) or backward (further). After the questions have been asked, players fold their “player card” into a paper airplane. Players have 45 seconds to fold their paper airplane. Once the time is up, they must throw their airplane toward the goal line. Players whose plane passed the goal line “won” (a metaphor for successfully being allowed into the United States). Players whose plane did not pass the line lost the game (a metaphor for their application being rejected).

Game Metaphors / Evaluation

Every part of the of the game is a metaphor for the actual process. The characters are a distribution of people with different backgrounds that are looking to get into the country. The questions asked make it more or less difficult (based on the player background) for them to be successful. These questions are based on the biases that can be seen by looking at the admissions data for immigrants & refugees (see sources, below). The goal line represents an application that has been successfully processed, which allows the character to enter the country. The limited time to make the paper airplane is representative of the rushed feeling of quickly having to do something (such as leave your homeland).

Future Additions / Improvements

Future additions could have more questions and more players. However the current version does have all of the basic game mechanics needed to clearly get the message across. It would be interesting to play in a larger space, as well as involve the audience in the process in a more substantial manner.


The basic game mechanic (of stepping forward or backward based on questions), is based on a Buzzfeed video What is Privilege. The content, however, is quite different. And we’ve made significant additions to the actual game play.

In terms of the data, we focused our attention on the Homeland Security’s Immigration Statistics for 2013, the most recent year for which data is available.

Link to presentation

Kenny’s Data Log: 1/7/16

On my way from Providence, RI (spending the day at HackAtBrown), I logged my data (or, at least as much of it as I could).


  • Location on Public Transit: Tapped MIT ID to use T
  • Purchase Information: Used a credit card to buy train tickets.
  • Geo-location apps also know my GPS location


  • Check In: Signed into the hackathon in the early afternoon
  • Internet Traffic: Using my computer at the computer throughout the day tracked by Brown and their ISP
  • Progress by teammates: My teammates tracked the progress of my portion of the project
  • Music over time: I listened to Apple Music throughout the day while working

Throughout the Day

  • Heart rate over time: Through the Apple Watch, that I wear on a daily basis
  • Step Count over time: Also through the Apple Watch
  • Motion Tracking: The Apple Watch also does motion tracking, and records how often I stand up throughout the day
  • Emails & Text Messages over time: My communication logs with people not near me through email and texting on my phone and computer.
  • Various Internet services: Youtube, Netflix, and Twitter track my usage, which occur throughout the day

WSJ World News Data Viz Review

A Divided Libya Struggles Against Islamic State Attacks [Source]

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece about Libya, oil, and the Islamic state, there are two interesting data visualizations. They are both related to the same story, but I will address their merits individually. The first chart, Hot Spots, is very strong. However the story’s second chart is less than ideal.

Hot Spots

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 3.01.10 AMThe first visualization is of recent Islamic State attacks in Libya. This is a very strong chart in many ways. In broad-strokes, it displays the data very clearly and in simply. It adds to the reader’s understanding of the story. And it is visually pleasing without being distracting.

More specifically, the author has chosen the obvious way to show a set of locations: a 2D map. Each data point on the map, with is an attack site, is symbolically represented with a black dot surrounded by a red explosion-looking icon. The black dot shows the exact point of the site, while the red icon draws the eye towards the data.

The scale of the map is sufficient in allowing a reader to clearly distinguish the various data points. The light texture on the map’s surface gives some auxiliary information about the geographic terrain, but it does not distract or complicate things.

Since, on a global scale, the data points are relatively close together, the map is fairly zoomed in to northern Libya. However, the mini-map in the bottom left corner of the screen gives the reader context to what part of the region (northern Africa), the up-close map is focused on.

  Libyan Oil Squeeze

The second chart, which attempts to convey Libya’s hurting oil production and revenue, is much weaker.P1-BW243_LIBYAO_16U_20160203172108

oth data sets being displayed in this chart (Oil production and petroleum revenue) are quantities over time. In the left chart, time is (properly) plotted on the horizontal axis. However, in the right chart, time is plotted vertically, which adds confusion and makes it very difficult to quickly scan for trends over time.

I hypothesize that the author knew this chart was weak and did not convey a message alone, so the subtitle of the chart is a straightforward, plain text explanation of what the chart is actually trying to convey.