2020 Shortlist

The Gyllenhaal Experiment

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: United States

Organisation: The Pudding

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 22/02/2019

Credit: Russell Goldenberg, Matt Daniels

Project description:

Building off of work by Colin Morris who explored the difficulties of spelling by identifying Reddit comments with (sp?) next to words, we wanted to visualize the variations of how people spell celebrity names like Jake Gyllenhaal and Matthew McConaughey. We later adapted this project for NBA stars.

Consider these spelling bee quizes with sankey-ish twists.

Impact reached:

We captured 337,492 users attempts to spell 15 celebrity names and 25,123 users attempted to spell 15 NBA star names.

Techniques/technologies used:

The front-end was built using Javascript and D3.js and the data backend was hosted on Firebase.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was building out a sankey-ish diagram that could handle the spelling permutations. Since the data was user generated, we didn’t know what shape it would take and how that would effect the end visualizations.

What can others learn from this project?

1. Spelling is hard. For example, there are at least 864 ways to spell ‘McConaughey.’ 

2. People enjoy the immediate feedback they get from quizes and the ability to compare themselves to others. They enjoy it even more if there’s something new, like sankey-ish spelling diagrams, waiting for them at the end.

Project links: