Story Idea Backlog
The Pudding team maintains a continuously updated list of questions, ideas, datasets, and half-baked thoughts for potential stories. For the ideas below, we'd like your help.
In their current form, they’re shower thoughts — we don’t know whether they’re viable stories, but something about them seemed like a compelling narrative may emerge after some exploration. If you’d like to work on one of these ideas with us, you’ll need to flesh it out and research it more thoroughly before it moves into production. That is to say, they need some proof that they are interesting. Think of them as starting points for your pitches: if any of them excite you, feel free to explore the data, and send us the preliminary results that suggest the story is sufficiently intriguing to merit further work. Details on how to pitch us.
What's in your wallet?
This essay would create an atlas of the world's currencies. What people, places, items or ideas are depicted on our dollars and yens (and euros, and naira, and rubles...)? What might that tell us about what is uniquely valued in those countries?
AI, robots and real life
How far away are we from developing the technologies dreamt up in sci-fi films?
Visual and interactive explainer on how to harmonize
GOAT of the WNBA
Who's the most productive player within a WNBA franchise?
Looking at the evolution of punctuation across a corpus of text from authors to an individual's email account.
A minor chord can be a major deal when it comes to song credits. Musicians have been called out for using similar chord progressions in the public arena and in courts of law. In exploring some of those instances, this story would look at how to progrmattically determine such similarities.
TikTok Dance credit
Tracing the origins of popular Tiktok dances back to their sources and measuring how the maker's popularity has been impacted, if at all
Our furry friends desrve a visual essay. We're curious to explore the early stages of the relationship, be it around adoption listings, naming them or teaching commands.
Dollar store data
Developing a map that could share distances to dollar stores, median income of shoppers per store, and changes to neighborhoods, etc.
Regional rap and urban planning
Some have said that east coast rap is more attuned to a walking pace, while west coast more often related to driving speeds. Do the data back this up?
banned and beloved children's books
This story would compare and contrast banned books and the top selling books within a given location. How much crossover exists between the two lists? Is one bookthrown to the fire, while another on the same topic is lauded? What themes or styles might differentiate a loved book from a feared one?
Timothée Chalamet internet tracker
What's the internet saying about Mr. Chalamet today? Seriously.
Why do certain movies/videos make us cry?
Live, Laugh, Love
I can't help, but think there's some kind of weird word analysis around the triple Ls, but I haven't found the right angle yet. Scrap repo here (https://github.com/the-pudding/live-laugh-love)
Sexually explicit rap lyrics by gender
If you followed the uproar around Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's new song WAP, you anecdotally know the way that we treat sexually explicit lyrics from female artists is different from the way we treat them from men. This would try to quantify that discrepancy.
paid in perpetuity
I recently learned about Bobby Bonilla, an ex-Met who retired in 2001, and will recieve 1.2 million dollars annully throgh 2035 (https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/29388441/bobby-bonilla-day-why-mets-pay-119-million-today-every-july-1). Would be fun to visualize athletes and coaches who have pulled off the heist of getting paid not to play long after their careers have ended.
visualizing concept creep
Showing how new phrases are introduced to the general lexicon and begin to shift in meaning/approach meaninglessness as they are deployed in many different ways
protests in media
look at how media represented violence in protests using headline analysis or homepage analysis
do fantasy sports require any skill?
I want to simulate a bunch of auto-drafted teams and see if your odds of putting together a high-scoring team are changed if you let a computer pick via projections or if you manually select a team.
the most prescient "The Onion" stories
had fun with this retrospective thread (https://digg.com/2020/this-twitter-thread-of-peoples-favorite-onion-headlines-is-a-perfect-way-to-waste-20-minutes-laughing), probably a bunch of different ways to mine onion headlines, but one would be looking at shareability years after something was written
someone said that first
I was looking at the wikipedia page for legendary lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_Hearn), and it's kind of mind-blowing how many phrases that are part of modern sports (and broader culture) vernacular were made up by broadcasters. This would be tracing certain phrases usages, like 'slam dunk,' over time
Like a _
Simile patterns, classification, author tendencies.
Shifts in Emoji usage
When a peach is just a peach? The peach emoji used to be associated with a juicy ass, but now it’s used to signal Trump’s imPEACHment. Are there other emoji that experience such a drastic shirt due to current events? Thinking about the use of bees and lemons around the Beyonce/Rachel Ray Becky with the good hair mixup and Taylor Swift getting bombarded with snakes.
The ideal _______ on Pinterest
Pinterest is a HUGE online community (bigger than Twitter or Snapchat). People use it as a mood board for all sorts of things. This would look at photos to determine the ideal wedding/hair/home/tattoo according to what people have pinned.
Artists' fan bases
Do artists' fan bases age with them? Or are they perpetually stuck at the same age?
Height difference in couples
Has the height delta of male/female couples changing over time?
When is an artist's best song not it's most popular?
Trying to answer the question in this tweet.
Dig into the cases for various emojis for olds (like us) to show nuance in their meaning
The rise of darts
Wikipedia pages that spike for each day of the year
Visualization of cost of life for millenials
Idea would be to take everything we have around cost of living, incomes for different generations and show how life is different for each range (e.g., difficulty of buying homes, cars, education).
Dynamics of career paths
This is a riff on the NYT project showing the career path of politicians. I think this could be expanded to executives in large companies or other industries.
Hype in annual reports, conference calls, etc.
The idea here is that topics like machine learning, blockchains, AI, and data science are basically the flavors of the week and every company wants to say they are doing them in order to bolster their stock and seem innovative. I want to look at transcripts and documents from large companies to see if this is a thing.
What would a truly representational Congress look like?
This idea is from this Kottke link and has been executed a few different ways in the past.
The mixed effects of online diversity training
This idea is based on visualizing this paper.
3D mapping of other newsroom's datasets
This would be looking at 3D rendering WaPos homocide dataset or NYT's gentrification dataset (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/27/upshot/diversity-housing-maps-raleigh-gentrification.html)
Longevity of dance fads
Are we ever going to produce another macarena? I feel like dance trends are more frequent and fleeting since social media. Perhaps wedding data as proxy, or quiz.
Visualize Stanford traffic stop data
Stanford has released a paper summarizing its findings from the traffic stop dataset. There is an opportunity to visualize this data.
Age of atheletes extending over time
This idea aims to look at whether performance of older atheletes is improving in major sports, potentially due to the improvement in training and medicine.
Words babies say
We don't have an idea yet, but we're looking to build some sort of narrative with this dataset.
The Max Martin mafia
The outsized role of Max Martin and his deciples on the charts. This would also show the various "Max Martins" of each era.
The spread of y’all
As more language is becoming gender neutral has this southern affection spread north?
Shows that launch most careers
What TV shows produced the most future stars?
Clutch in the NBA
Who is the cluchest players in basketball?
Take a debated speech and annotate it. Or commission two people to have a debate and annotate.
Finding generation gaps
Ask people if they know things. Then look at generational gaps.
Quantity of media coming at us
Visualizing the amount of emails, headlines, and social media posts that target people daily.
What’s a millionaire, anyway?
Examining spending power over the years throughout North America.
“Thank God for Mississippi”
Growing up this is what my mom would always say whenever state rankings came out for anything. Tennessee was always near the bottom, but we could always count on Mississippi to be worse. When you look at a state choropleth map, chances are the South stands out for all the wrong reasons. But there's a lot of systemic injustice behind that. Can we quantify that with metrics?
Color temperature explainer
This would take a nerd topic like color temperature and attempt to explain it using social media photos and filters.
Unpaid + pay to play internships
Inspired by this Twitter thread, how many internship postings are either unpaid or require the applicant to pay?
Can new parents afford to take parental leave?
Between the cost of childcare, transportation etc. can new parents afford to go back to work after they have a new child? Worded another way, how much do new parents need to make per hour (per state) to make the return to work financially "worth it"?