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Catherine Mulbrandon
Founder Catherine Mulbrandon seeks to expand her VisualizingEconomics.com's website and create Illustrated Guides that contain infographic explainers using economic data that help journalists, teachers, students, financial bloggers and citizens understand economic numbers and policy. The NMWE award supplements $14,000 raised on Kickstarter.

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Project Blog: Visualizing Economics

Founder Catherine Mulbrandon seeks to expand her VisualizingEconomics.com's website and create Illustrated Guides that contain infographic explainers using economic data that help journalists, teachers, students, financial bloggers and citizens understand economic numbers and policy. The NMWE award supplements $14,000 raised on Kickstarter.

Catherine Mulbrandon visualizes the history of income in the U.S.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Visualizing Economics, the New Media Grant recipient headed by Catherine Mulbrandon, released a comprehensive two year project January 2013. "An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States" makes the most "micro" of economics clear to readers through charts, graphs, inforgraphics, and glosseries of economic terms. Check it out!

   • Posted by Justin Warren on 01/31 at 01:24 PM

The Final Leg

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

I have shut down my old site and fixed the issues with the new Squarespace site. Not that the site is done but I now have a foundation to build on with all of my old pages/post moved over. Adding new projects pages, interactive galleries or even another blog is a pretty straight forward process and now that they are opening Squarespace 6 up to the developer community I expect to see more features and templates to integrate in to my site. The switch also saves me nearly 90% on the cost of hosting my blog while still keeping my site reliable regardless of how big or how much bandwidth I need.

As for the Guide, I am planning to work with a private label publishing firm (Worthy Shorts) to not only print the copies I need but also create and sell an e-book version via Apple iBookstore and/or Amazon. This will make my guide more accessible to more people while let me test-the-waters to find out if I can reach an audience beyond my blog. The ebook markets is growing at a spectacular rate but until very recently it was not set up to accommodate a "picture" book in color. So with the sales of color tablets increasing, I hope to find out if my data graphics have a place in the ebook market place.

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 10/09 at 10:06 AM

Info T-Shirts and a New Website

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This month I have been proofing the Income Guide and gathering feedback from everyone. And since I will be delivering a T-shirt to my Kickstarter backers, I have created a design and found a interesting service online called CustomInk.com to print them at a discount and still get different sizes and color, which gives me the maximum flexibility. I have not designed a T-shirt before but I am having fun figuring out how to place a infographic on a piece of clothing. 

Also, I am working on my new website which entails learning the ins and outs of Squarespace while converting my old blog from Wordpress. The new site needs to support multiple uses: a place for me to share old projects (portfolio), offer items for sale (posters, books, t-shirts) or let people donate, a blog for me to share what I am working on now and a section to explain what I do. I expect to change the design over the next year as I see how the site is used and make adjustments. I hope to make a site that is flexible enough that I can try different approaches (subscription, donation, sales etc…) without a lot of custom coding.

Unlike a traditional blog where I am locked into a format of reverse chronological blog posts, Squarespace was designed not just for hosting a single blog but can support multiple blogs at the same site and publish projects in a portfolio. (However, the developer tools are not ready yet, which is a little frustrating). It is also cheaper for me to host my work so long-term. I will save money even if I get 10 times the traffic I get now. While I considered hiring someone to set up my site, I realized I wanted to learn to use Squarespace so I can experiment with the site myself.

BTW, the difficulties I have converting my old blog to Squarespace are almost resolved. I ended up creating a workaround for myself by exporting only the published blog posts from my self-hosted Wordpress, then importing the attached xml file into a Wordpress.com site. Finally I used Squarespace's Wordpress import tool to import the posts from mulbrandon.wordpress.com into my Squarespace site. However, it looks like some of the image files will break as they are pointed back to the original web site so I will need to replace the links in the exported xml file to point to my Amazon S3 folder where I am going to host the images from the old blog for now (at least until Squarespace figures out how to convert these image links in bulk to their "images blocks" format, which will give me the full functionality when displaying my images).

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 09/12 at 11:21 AM

Small Steps Forward

Thursday, August 02, 2012

There were many small steps forward with one step back this month. With this project, I have also taken on the role of designer as author, which means the design of the physical presentation is in my hands as well as the content that goes into it. So, I am working on the parts of the Illustrated Guide to Income that help place the data graphics in context, i.e. the cover, table of contents, bibliography, and finally the commentary.

I have tried to write the commentary several times but keep stopping as I struggled to find the right voice. While I never intended to write essays for this project, I was certain that I needed to "talk" to the reader as they browsed though the Guide about what I found interesting. I also thought I needed to provide definitions and background information that would work like guide posts helping people from getting lost but not getting in the way if they explore on their own. What was especially helpful for me as I tried to figure out what was working in the Guide was to sit down with a friend for an afternoon and get her feedback as she looked at it with fresh eyes for the first time. Since she is an information designer too, she gave me feedback on design of the book itself.

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 08/02 at 12:21 PM

Illustrated Income Guide Nearing Finish Line

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I have finally added my last remaining topics to the Income Guide, including unemployment, demographic data, share of GDP for major industry sectors, and, most importantly, maps showing the geography of income in the United States. In each case, I needed to reach out to others to help me complete the pages or else perform additional research, which is why these topics took the longest. While I didn't want to start any new pages this late in the project, I am glad I got them in since they were on my list of topics I felt I needed to cover.

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 07/05 at 10:10 AM

The Challenges of a Book vs. a Blog

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I am finalizing the data graphics for my book, An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States. The geography and the demographic sections still need new graphics but the rest of the pages just require edits. I still need to write the explore text to help connect the dots between each infographic. In many ways this is the hardest part because my work in the past has always been one-off infographics that I post to my blog.

In a book, you have the freedom to explore a subject in more depth but it is harder to juggle all of the ideas and information while also making the connections clear to your reader. It’s not unlike the difference between writing an article and writing a book.

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 06/03 at 11:29 AM

Topics of the Month: Selling Posters, Creating Infographics, and WordPress Alternatives

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

This month I focused on selling posters; creating new infographics for the Income Guide and looking for a replacement for my current WordPress blog.

So far I have sold 12 posters, a few orders still come in each week even a month after the initial launch of the online store. I printed a 100 posters but I hoped to sell at least 50 before September (then perhaps a back-to-school sale if my inventory is still high). It looks like CPAs and financial advisors are the main customers right now which makes sense given the poster is about tax rates. The longer-term question is how to market to them beyond my blog and Google Ads?

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 05/08 at 07:52 AM

Post-SxSW, Adventures in E-Commerce

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

I returned from SxSW on the 13th, tired but glad I had a chance to see this conference for myself after hearing about it for so many years. It is so large that it would more accurately be called several conferences in one. I spent most of my time in the Journalism and Online Content tract where I got to listen to a panel with David Carr and others talk about curation, and another panel about funding news startups and discussions about how to hire data visualization designer and programmers (Answer: you must go to them because they don't see themselves as "journalists" - something I can relate to). I attended a 2-hour “unconference” about data-driven journalism at the Texas Tribune where I met people interested in building data tools that support data sharing and discussed best practices. I finally made it to a data-visualization panel in the Convention Center on my fourth day, which included academics and designers talking through their experiences. Overall, it was a good experience but overwhelming and I was glad to return home.

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   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 04/03 at 08:42 AM

The Final Stretch

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

While I am making a final sprint to finish the Income Guide, I wanted to try a beta test to see how difficult it would be to print copies of my data graphics and sell my work though my website. In the past I have tried Cafepress for printing and selling the large posters that I created for my Master Thesis but with very little success. These were large 2' x 3' posters and the digital print-on-demand was not a high quality. This time I will be selling a popular graph on Tax Rates that I recently updated for 2011. This tax graph is topical and has been reposted by many blogs and has been requested by financial advisors. It will be a small tabloid-sized poster on high quality paper but with digital printing so I can do short runs (i.e. 50 copies at a time).

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 02/08 at 09:03 AM

Two Presentations Amid a Busy December

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Even with the holidays and travel I was able to give two presentations in December. The first was at a design lecture given each month in Brooklyn, NY, called Creative Mornings. I have attended this lecture series many times but this was my first time as a presenter. I was able to show to an audience of designers and developers the income-inequality graphics I presented at the Big Picture conference in October. The feedback was both positive and curious about what the data means. As I put the collection together it is clear that biggest hurdle in front of me is linking the graphics together to help people see the connections between them. 

Read more...

   • Posted by Catherine Mulbrandon on 01/04 at 03:54 PM