Monday, January 23, 2017

Our new visualization: Presidential inaugural addresses

Google has just launched a new visualization in the series I'm helping with. Its title is Inaugurate, and the author is Jan Willem Tulp. It's already been featured by USA Today, and Simon Rogers, who is at the helm of this series —previous ones are WorldPotus and Rhythm of Food,— has written a good explainer about it. I worked as an advisor.

Inaugurate visualizes the first presidential inauguration speeches of the 12 most searched-for presidents. Each speech is a column, and each rectangle within one column represents the length of a sentence. It was surprising for me to see how short Abraham Lincoln's 1861 address was.

The circles on top of the rectangles mark mentions of the most common subjects —God, democracy, justice, economy, etc.,— and the gradient on top of each section represents the current search interest in Google: Red is high interest; blue is low. In the image below you can see that “liberty” appears in many speeches, and it's still a topic of interest in Google searches:

Exploring this visualization will reveal some insights. For instance, go to the “Emotions & Human Values” section. In the addresses by George W. Bush or Barack H. Obama, subjects are varied: compassion, courage, happiness, dignity, and morality. Trump is all patriotism and, above all, loyalty. In the “Society” section you'll also see that wealth appears in Trump's speech more times than in any other:


  1. I got here through the MOOC. How many people were involved in creating this and how long ago did they start? Also, the Society chart says Trump didn't use the word Freedom, but I found this in his speech, ". . .we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms,, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

    1. I wasn't involved in the data collection, but it may have to do with the plural. As for how many people were involved —just one, actually, Jan Willem Tulp, who did all the coding. The rest of the people credited (like me) just worked giving feedback here and there. It took around one month to be ready