“Bewitching” look at state migration patterns is good when used interactively but not all together

The Atlantic Cities has a cool graphic about migration between states but there is one problem – it is hard to read unless you use the interactive element.

Here is an explanation of how to read the chart:
The graphic may look like spaghetti pie at first glance, but it really is beautifully simple once you learn how to navigate it. Here’s Walker explaining about that:

The visualization is a circle cut up into arcs, the light-colored pieces along the edge of the circle, each one representing a state. The arcs are connected to each other by links, and each link represents the flow of people between two states. States with longer arcs exchange people with more states (California and New York, for example, have larger arcs). Links are thicker when there are relatively more people moving between two states. The color of each link is determined by the state that contributes the most migrants, so for example, the link between California and Texas is blue rather than orange, because California sent over 62,000 people to Texas, while Texas only sent about 43,000 people to California. Note that, to keep the graphic clean, I only drew a link between two states if they exchanged at least 10,000 people.

Without the interactive element, you can’t quite figure out what is going on. All you can rely on is the relative width and length of the arcs as there are no numbers for the migration (and that would get cluttered really quickly). For example, you can quickly see that it seems like California sends Texas a lot of people. Or that quite a few New Yorkers go to California or Florida. The middle is kind of a jumbled mess and can be hard to follow thinner strands.

This seems to be a fun graphic element when it takes advantage of the capabilities of the Internet – you can click on your state, cut out all the clutter, and see the numbers. Otherwise, I’m not sure it adds much and still requires a good amount of text to sort things out.

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