The Year in News 2017, According to 2.8 Billion Tweets
One incredible thing about the big data era is that it allows us to crunch the numbers on pretty much anything.
Whether it’s analyzing a database of 50 million chess moves made during actual tournament gameplay, or developing a deep learning AI that sifts through billions of sensor inputs to learn how to drive a car with full autonomy – we can power nearly any analysis or algorithm with mountains of data.
Like the above examples, today’s infographic from Echelon Insights uses massive amounts of data to paint a picture of the news that wasn’t possible 10 or 20 years ago. By analyzing the words in over 2.8 billion tweets, the end result is a convincing set of visualizations that showcase the most talked about topics over the course of 2017.
The Talk of 2017
Not surprisingly, the conversation in 2017 on Twitter revolved mainly around one person – and you may have heard of him.
I love Twitter…. it's like owning your own newspaper— without the losses.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2012
According to Echelon Insights, Trump was mentioned 901.8 million times on Twitter in the United States over the duration of the year.
Here’s how that compares to some other notable politicians:
|Politician||Mentions in 2017|
|Donald Trump||901.8 million|
|Barack Obama||164.2 million|
|Hillary Clinton||123.2 million|
|Bernie Sanders||48.8 million|
|Mike Pence||31.4 million|
Trump was mentioned about 30x more often than his VP, and 7x more often than his one-time election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
And incredibly, Trump was the number one topic of daily conversation for 95% of the year, above every other issue and topic:
There were only 17 days in 2017 where Donald Trump was NOT the top topic of conversation, and he was the #1 story every week for every audience
– Echelon Insights, The Year in News 2017
But putting Trump aside, here are the specific narratives that received the most attention by users in the U.S. Twitterverse.
|Topic||Mentions in 2017|
|Russia investigation||180.4 million|
|Healthcare & Obamacare||151.6 million|
|James Comey||41.8 million|
|Sexual harassment scandals||36.6 million|
|Climate change & Paris Agreement||31.8 million|
|North Korea||28.2 million|
The Russia story dominated headlines on an ongoing basis.
The alleged collusion was a constant in the news cycle from February until August, and then it picked up again in November.
It was also the top story for two of the major groups that Echelon Insights tracks, the “Liberal Base”, as well as the “Conservative Base”. However, Russia was only the second most important story for the group “Beltway Elites”, falling behind the much-discussed topic of healthcare.
Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent
Where are the happiest, least happy, and fastest improving countries worldwide? We’ve broken down this annual ranking by region to answer that question.
Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent
The state of our world is shifting beneath our feet — economics alone no longer equate to satisfaction, let alone happiness.
Today’s visualization pulls data from the seventh World Happiness Report 2019, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. We’ve previously shown the variables used to measure happiness in this report, but here, we break down rankings by continent and region for a clearer picture of where each country lies.
Unhappy Americans have caused the country to tumble in rankings for a third straight year, despite evidence that things are generally looking up. The report attributes much of this erosion to a variety of addictions: opioids, workaholism, gambling, internet, exercise, and even shopping are among them.
Haiti is the least happy country in this region. The country is still struggling to rebuild sanitation infrastructure and other educational and healthcare programs, despite foreign aid.
In brighter news, Nicaragua is seeing great gains in happiness levels, as the country makes a concentrated effort to reduce poverty.
In South America, the majority of countries cluster around a score of six on the happiness scale.
The one notable exception to this is Venezuela, which is faltering in both happiness rank and regional improvement. The nation’s hyperinflation and humanitarian crisis both show no signs of slowing down.
Finland comes out on top of the world for a second consecutive year, and it’s not difficult to see why. The country boasts a stable work-life balance, bolstered by a comprehensive welfare state.
Scandinavian countries appear among the happiest nations for similar very reasons — elevating the region’s score to 16% above the global average.
On the flip side, Ukraine is the unhappiest, likely intensified by the ongoing war in southeastern Donbass. Greece is the least improved, as it continues to heal from the sovereign debt crisis.
Middle East and Central Asia
Uzbekistan shows the swiftest regional improvement, as the country has launched an ambitious reform agenda for greater economic, social, and political development and openness.
Unfortunately, Syria’s continued civil war comes with a heavy price for its people and economy, as does the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — although the latter doesn’t seem to impact Israel’s happiness ranking. In fact, Israel finished with the 13th best score, globally.
Rest of Asia and Oceania
In East Asia, the average happiness score is quite close to the global average, with Taiwan standing out as the happiest country.
Singapore out-competes other countries within Southeast Asia, despite only being home to a population of 5.6 million. Its neighbor Malaysia, however, plunged from 35th to 80th place.
Oceania stands alone – Australia and New Zealand are closely matched in their individual happiness scores.
The African continent as a whole fares 19.2% below the global average. But there are silver linings, with strong strides towards improvement being made.
Mauritius benefits from good governance and a buoyant tourism sector — with visitor arrivals equal to the island’s 1.3 million population. Meanwhile, Benin has soared in the rankings, and is supported by the World Bank in key structural reforms such as poverty reduction and access to basic services.
What could these rankings look like in another ten years?
Notes: The Africa map was updated to show more country scores. The report only covers 156 countries, so “Oceania” only refers to Australia and New Zealand in this instance.
Arms Sales: USA vs. Russia (1950-2017)
This intense animation plots data on nearly 70 years of arms sales, to compare the influence of the two superpowers from the Cold War to modern times.
Arms Sales: USA vs. Russia (1950-2017)
Between countless proxy wars and the growing threat of nuclear catastrophe, the Cold War created an unprecedented geopolitical climate.
For nearly half a century, the world’s two biggest superpowers were scrambling to top one another by any means necessary. It was a tension that ignited everything from the space race to sports rivalries, with the impact often spilling over to neighboring nations.
Not only did the U.S. and Soviet Union duke it out in the mother of all arms races – they also extended their influence by selling arms outside of their borders. Interestingly, this latter race continues on until today, almost three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Visualizing Arms Sales
Today’s animation comes from data scientist Will Geary, and it shows the history of international arms sales originating from the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) from 1950 to 2017.
More specifically, using data from the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, the animation shows the geographic movement of arms from country to country as well as the evolving share of the arms trade held by the respective countries. The video is also pleasantly backed by audio that represents music from each decade, ranging from Buffalo Springfield to The Clash.
Peak Arms Dominance
If you watch the pie chart in the upper left corner of the animation, you’ll see that the early-1960s is the peak of U.S. and Soviet arm dominance – at this point, around the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis and then the JFK assassination, the two superpowers combined for 80% of global arms sales.
In the 1960s, the biggest customers of U.S. arms were Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan – while the Soviets sent the most weapons to Egypt, Poland, and East Germany.
Fall of the Wall
By the 1980s, the global arms trade started dying down as Soviet leaders like Gorbachev focused on domestic reforms, and eventually perestroika.
Later, the Soviet Union dissolved, and arms sales continued to plunge all the way to 2001:
Since then, arms sales have been ramping up again – and today, they are back at levels last seen before the Berlin Wall came down.
The Modern Era
Who is selling the most arms, according to the last 10 years of data?
Even though the Cold War is now long gone, the U.S. and Russia have kept their legacy of international arms sales going well into the 21st century.
And today, the two nations combine for roughly 60% of arms sales, with top U.S. weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon getting a big slice of that pie.
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