29 Jan 2012

Before and After: Defense Puzzle Responses

A few weeks ago we published a “Defense Budget Puzzle" (a sequel of sorts to one we made in 2010 that dealt with the federal deficit) that focused on a series of choices that the Pentagon is making to cut its budget. This time, however, we stored the choices readers made when they “submitted” their plans. And last week, when Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker highlighted the Pentagon’s first major step toward that goal, we published the results of the more than 12,000 readers who submitted a plan.

We weren’t sure how to visualize the results to include a choice’s popularity and its cost. So we grouped them by category and explored a couple different presentations (both using a very few lines of R).┬áThe first one used proportional circles and I sort of liked it but almost none of the smart people I showed it to did, which is pretty much the end of the story there.

Puzzle sketch 1

The second one was based on a simple chart we had run about ads the week before (the link to which I can’t seem to find).

Sketch2 Responses

It looked cleaner, fit better in the space and was pretty straightforward to make. So we went with it and built it. (Alas, my neon colors were changed to something more sensible.) Still looks pretty close to the final output, though.

Final responses