📰 Noteworthy stories for today #19

Does richer always equal more democratic? Zip-lining the Nu & KAWS and effect.

Are Richer Countries Always More Democratic?

My old haunt The Economist released its annual Democracy Index last week, I was fortunate enough to work on a few animations and Instagram assets for the release of the 2019 report the results of which are always really interesting. This year a question popped into my head - are richer countries always more democratic?

To answer this I whipped open R-Studio and plotted out the 2020 EIU Democracy Index against the 2019 World Bank GDP stats. If you want to see how I created this Data Visualisation I’m planning to start writing Behind The Scenes posts available for Paid Subscribers where I’ll walk through my process (and mistakes!). You can subscribe now for only £5 a month to see these posts and later other Data experiments.

Back to the Index, the EIU (The Economist Intelligence Unit) measures a country’s democracy on a scale of 0–10 based on 60 indicators grouped into 5 categories - the Electoral Process and Pluralism (the diversity of a political body), Civil Liberties, the Functioning of Government, Political Participation and the Political Culture. Based on these criteria the Democracy Index aims to rank each country. GDP maps a country’s Gross Domestic Product, for us layman that essentially means it is a measurement of the size and health of a country’s bank account.

So when we plot this against the EIU report we get our answer above. From this we can see a subtle correlation to the size of a country’s GDP and its Democracy - but - there are some clear outliers. For example Botswana rates higher than Greece despite Greece having roughly $190 billion higher GDP, whilst unsurprisingly China rates very low on the Democracy Index even with it having the second highest GDP out of the all countries indexed only a few decimals points above Eritrea that has a fraction of China’s GDP. You can check out the full report and see where your country lands on the index here.


Behind the Photograph

A quick read here, from one of National Geographic’s story and photograph series. Fritz Hoffmann recounts the scenes he shot in Southwest China along the Nu River where locals used to scale the enormous river between the villages on zip line. Human ambition, madness and ingenuity all in one. Continue reading on National Geographic.


KAWS and Effect

Back in the day I was obsessed with Street Art, I tried to make a go at it my self and tagged a bus stop I think but nerves got the better of me and I retired (Michael 1, cops 0). I remember reading about KAWS and his bus stop screwdriver that allowed him to break into the panels and paste his own designs up and I think that’s probably where I first saw his work too. As time went on I grew different interests and kind of ignored the Street Art world but every now and then one name kept popping up in my periphery. Like now, read how KAWS, shunned by the art world is now finding himself at the very centre of it on The New York Times.


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M