Thursday, July 09, 2009

(Greater) Pittsburgh, meet your government(s)

Greater Pittsburgh, meet your government. Just for fun, I count 461 municipalities in the 7 county Pittsburgh MSA these days. Scaled to population that looks like this:

Obligatory caveats: You can click on the image get a bigger PDF version. Image made with Wordle. Names are scaled within to 2008 population estimates I gave it, but it obviously isn't proportional linearly. I actually had to scale down the City of Pittsburgh text because it was scaling it far bigger than what you see here which didn't make sense. 461 municipalities are for the current 7 county MSA definition. and I have not counted manually, but I am thinking some places are just so small relative to others that the algorithm used must have dropped them out of the graphic altogether. Is the software telling us something? Otherwise take it FWIW.

I think Wordle was weighting things with a quadratic. Adjusting it accordingly seems to be more cognitively consistent. Also tweaked some fo the names and things to get this. Also the full PDF version is larger now as well which makes it a bit clearer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoa... Hempfield Township is huge!

Maybe we could do a Wordle based on number of jobs located in each municipality... I'm sure it would look even more extreme.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:34:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I was actually trying that... to include special districts, counties, and school districts.. but I just took a few minutes to do this instead. Gets a little complicated. Maybe someday.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:35:00 PM  
Blogger Paz said...

This is really nifty. I continue to be amazed at how large some of the munis outside of Allegheny county are. But that's also probably because they cover much larger areas.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:55:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Arsenal said...

Of course, what you really need to do is lay it out such that it looks like a map of the region, a-la-No on 8:

Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger Infinonymous said...

That depiction appears to substantially overstate the size of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's population is roughly 300,000 -- which approximates one-quarter of the county population, one-eighth of the regional population.

Now, if scaled to debt . . .

Thursday, July 09, 2009 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I couldn't find any documentation on how wordle was weighting it based on the numbers I fed it.. But it wanted to make the Pittsburgh text much much bigger. I cut it down by almost 70% which eyeballing it looked about right vis a vis Penn Hills I thought.

There is an idea though.. Maybe a statewide pension liability version of this?

Thursday, July 09, 2009 3:53:00 PM  
Blogger n'at said...

Intifadamus, Not really: 900,000 Allegheny Suburbanites / 129 Municipalities within Allegheny County = fewer people than elementary students *attending* Pittsburgh Public Schools per fiefdom.

Even less people when comparing the populations of the 460 other muni's in the region. This is just the average, of course.

... If only we were western reserve...

I'm sure Mr. Briem could bedazzle us with fancy illustrative population comparisons.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 4:00:00 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

I had no idea Hempfield was so big either (and I graduated from Hempfield Senior High).

Thursday, July 09, 2009 7:50:00 PM  
Blogger Infinonymous said...

Pittsburgh: 312,000
Allegheny County: 1,215,000
7-county metro: 2,463,000

The City of Pittsburgh is one-quarter of Allegheny County, one-eighth of the regional metropolitan area, by population.

Therefore, on an accurate chart, Pittsburgh would occupy one-eighth of the regional space, and one-fourth of the county space.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I'm not sure accuracy is the issue. Wordle is doing what it does for all such graphs. I am thinking it is doing something with a quadratic on the share which we do for certain concentration measures. I also am not quite sure what the area would be for the 1/8th calculation. Pittsburgh may be occupying 1/8th of what it considers the 'canvas'. I think it's scaling the font size anyway.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Michaek said...

If it's merely setting the font size proportional to the numbers you input, then the graphic output would be effectively quadratic, as the font size is a measure of height (and a word twice as high is approximately twice as wide).

Friday, July 10, 2009 8:39:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I had played with that before.. normalizing by the number of characters but it didn't seem to help too much, but I think it is part of the issue. Kerning becomes an issue and variable character widths or if you really get into it the density of the charactr. The question would then become is adjusting it going to actually make the ordinal presentation worse?

I have found a disclaimer in Wordle that says it is all meant as art.. not really an analytical tool. That may be the takeaway. In it's defense, in a broad sense the ordinal presentation is useful. There is not one answer to how best to scale. Take Maria's comment on not realizing how big Hempfield was.. It is 3nd biggest muni in the region. Seems to me that was more obvious on the earlier graph than the latter.

Friday, July 10, 2009 9:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a companion graphic showing the relative sizes 50 years ago?

Friday, July 10, 2009 9:39:00 AM  
Blogger Vannevar said...

Bravo Zulu.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 2:53:00 PM  
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