Visualising Grey’s Anatomy character appearances and episode ratings — a work in progress


You’ve heard of Grey’s Anatomy — it’s the medical drama where everyone dies and all the characters were once in love with each other. I was introduced at the start of my Prime subscription more than a year ago, right before the universal scourge that left me with several hours a day to watch surgeons agonise about family troubles over a bursting appendix.

After my recent criticism of how Grey’s handled the pandemic, I was left pondering how the show has changed over the sixteen (!) years it’s aired and what may have led to its decrease in…

Inspired by a 150-year-old work of dataviz, I illustrated three Selma — Montgomery marches to memorialise a giant in the American civil rights movement

Please note: this work describes police brutality.

This week, I discovered the genius of one retired French civil engineer who combined geography, military history, and data to document his countryman’s 19th-century pummelling at the hands of the Russian army (and winter).

Charles Joseph Minard, known only by his last name in dataviz circles, created in 1869 what Yale statistician and information designer Edward Tufte called “the best statistical graphic ever produced.”

An image of Charles Minard’s famous “Napoleon visualisation”.
An image of Charles Minard’s famous “Napoleon visualisation”.

Instead of describing the in’s and out’s of this complex chart, I’ll invite you to read this article, which analyses the work in stunning detail. I was particularly inspired…

Honouring the UK health + social care workers lost to COVID-19

My most memorable #ClapForOurCarers took place last April. I had just moved to a new residence hall and didn’t know anyone there, but it looked unusually bright outside for 8 PM, and I felt brave. Armed with a family-sized hand sanitiser squeeze bottle, I walked along neighbouring blocks lined with apartments and office buildings, their streetlights flashing like fireflies. As the hour struck, I started recording the scene. The clanging and hollering and whistling couldn’t have been clearer, despite the abandoned appearance of the whole street.

Like I saw that evening, momentum to support the health and social care workforce…

Visualising flashbacks in my favourite drama series (spoiler alert)

Please note: this piece mentions bereavement.

I never thought I would be the kind of person who’d enjoy a show featuring cheesy adages and extended sibling conversations that sound like family therapy. I’ve always gone for the irreverent approaches of Grey’s Anatomy or The Office, whose focuses on character development are nevertheless coupled with the thrill of medical emergencies or awkward comedy.

Reference image from NBC.

But there I was this Friday, reviewing every frame of the 88-episode This is Us (a series of that exact description), for a visualisation that I had wanted to make for months. First aired in 2016, the show…

Visualisations for an important day in my public health journey

A calendar icon labelled “June 26”
A calendar icon labelled “June 26”

Tomorrow is International Scoliosis Awareness Day. If you know me well, you have likely grown frustrated at the enthusiasm with which I commemorate this occasion (it is, after all, arbitrary, and relates to a condition that causes me little trouble). But this year, it falls on the same day as a different personal milestone: my first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Today, through a combination of anecdotes, tentative data viz, and a series of coincidences, I will examine these two events through a health equity lens. …

Here’s a map for Father’s Day, a month in the making

The most important man in my life takes pictures of flowers wherever he goes.

Our family would be trudging along a Beijing sidewalk after a long day of errands when he’d burst out, “oh, look at these colours, you two!” Then, he’d get up close to some bushes I hadn’t even noticed and zoom in on their bright petals with his phone lens, stooping and tiptoeing, squinting and lifting his thick glasses above his head to examine each shot.

It was a futile exercise to convince him to keep walking.

And me?

The first time I took an oil painting…

Visualising the career of a musician-turned rescue dog

Please note: this article mentions bereavement.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing research and frantic data cleaning on topics that impact millions of people (with varying levels of success). But sometimes, I read something, get emotional, and dive straight into a deeply personal data viz journey. This is one of those times — please continue scrolling.

Visualising subtitle and audio description availability on European TV channels

A TV screen with two lines of subtitles is overlaid with three graphics of speech bubbles.
A TV screen with two lines of subtitles is overlaid with three graphics of speech bubbles.
Image by author.

Equitable access to goods and services, no matter how trivial, has been a core tenet of the disability justice movement since its inception. Aside from commonly discussed urban design questions such as the addition of ramps to buildings, giving the largest section of the population sensory access to entertainment (i.e. films, concerts, and multimedia broadcasts) is bound to reduce social isolation, educate a wider public, and broaden perspectives. After all, don’t you sometimes relish sharing your hot take on the trending series of the day?

So in the wake of Euro 2020 (which I haven’t yet bothered watching), I wondered…

Visualising participants in performance artist Marina Abramović’s 2010 work

This piece contains brief descriptions of violence that some readers may find upsetting.

What do you consider art?

I’ve been spoiled by the chance to explore magnificent pieces of oil, ink, and sculpture shown in museums across continents. But recently, I’ve discovered a less prominent medium among the limitless categories of creative expression that that term encompasses— performance.

Performance pieces are works created through artists’ or participants’ movements or actions. They’re characterised by their impermanence and “live”-ness, making them one of the hardest types of art to document.

The first performance artist I heard about was the self-proclaimed “grandmother“ of…

I’ve taken a break this week from (published) data viz, but I’ve still got something to share

A combination of personal responsibilities during the last several days have stopped me from producing a data viz post detailed enough to share this time around. I’m sure this won’t be the last time this happens, so I’ll just have to forgive myself. Thank you for your understanding!

In the meantime, I’ve been busy creating content to celebrate National Volunteers’ Week in the UK. I was lucky to join a handful of nonprofits during this country’s successive lockdowns, and this week has given us plenty of time to reflect on our work so far.

When thinking about the impact of…

Yaning Wu

Population Health student @ UCL. Data vizzes recognised by the Endangered Languages Project + the RNIB. Published on Towards Data Science and UX Collective.

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