The Pudding Cup
The best visual and data-driven stories of 2021
We’re excited to announce the winners of our fifth-annual Pudding Cup!
Like last year, we exclusively focused on non-commercial* projects to give them the attention they deserve but might not receive. The three winners below will receive a ⅓ share of the $3,141.59 prize pie for their hard work.
Our three favorite essays.
Queenie Wu & Leslie Xin
Despite the atypical subject matter, we all had a similar spark of joy for the brilliance of Waterworks’ concept when first opening the link. Crying at college could have easily been a topic explained in a thousand-word article. However, actually seeing the flood of locations students have cried on campus (in this case, the University of Waterloo) not only makes you understand the topic, but the map-based visualization makes you feel the weight of the topic’s implications (students and academic pressure / stress; even more broadly, young people and mental health). You could say we at The Pudding of all people are suckers for a nuanced topic shown beautifully rather than told verbosely (in fact, it’s kind of our whole thing). – Caitlyn Ralph
Spenser A. Krut
It’s rare for projects to tackle topics that have received scant coverage, but we were intrigued by the questions this analysis of American wilderness suggested. How much of the land in the country can be considered wild? What is wilderness, exactly? And, since this land is managed by the US government, what does it mean for various departments to be responsible for its administration? – Ilia Blinderman
How We Gaze is an opportunity to see things from another’s perspective, quite literally. Using crowdsourced eye-tracking data, we’re invited to consider what someone else found most eye-catching about an artwork. Where does their gaze linger? What do they ignore? Do others follow the same path? There’s even an opportunity to contribute your own point of view with the aid of your webcam. As a panel, we found this to be a compelling application of the data, and a subtle way to engender empathy, if only for a few fleeting glances. – Rob Smith
Definitely worth a click.
River Runner by Sam Learner
The premise is simple: let a raindrop fall anywhere in the world and watch its travels. Its execution, however, draws the reader in and leads to questions about the world’s vast network of waterways. It’s rare for a project with so few words to give rise to so many cultural, ecological, and geographical considerations. – IB
Loud Numbers: a data sonification podcast by Miriam Quick and Duncan Geere
Using data to make creative, yet coherent visualizations is hard enough; imagine trying to make music from it. That’s the daunting task that the makers of Loud Numbers undertake in every episode of their podcast, often with resounding success. The “Boom & Bust” and “The End of the Road” episodes are especially captivating sonifications. – RS
Apex Legends by Cooper Thomas
As someone who has never given Formula One racing much thought, let alone screen time, I walked away from this piece with a newfound respect for track design and the history of the sport. Who knew Belgian elevation could be so fascinating?! – RS
All The Passes by Karim Douieb
They call it “the beautiful game,” so naturally Karim’s depiction of every pass from 890 football matches looks great. The viz is both simple and satisfying; scrolling around it is a couple minutes well spent. – Kevin Litman-Navarro
NBA Recordigami by Narro
This was a great example of choosing the right form for your idea. The triangle visual stacks unlikely records near the outer ends, and the temporal color scale drives home the point that applies outside of basketball — the more times you try something, the more you will see rare outcomes. – KLN
Like a Ritual: An Autovisual Ode to Title Fight by Sawyer Click
Sawyer, you had me at “autovisual ode.” As someone who a) works at The Pudding and b) would travel to the ends of the earth for her favorite bands (quite literally), I adore your standom-fueled, geeky-ass analysis into this band and their discography. Kudos for coalescing all those random Spotify variables into a convincing defense of none other than Title Fight. – CR
Is the Song Intro Dead? by Peter O'Connor
Bit biased here since The Stone Roses are maybe my most-streamed artist so far this year, but I think I speak for all of us at the ol’ Pudding when I say we do love a nerdy data deep-dive to answer a simple yet solid cultural question about music. – CR
Pat Gallaher by Harrison Lisewski
The super playful merge of interview format, data visualizations, poppy design, and humor got us here. Shout out to Pat. – CR
*Non-commercial projects = things created without compensation. It was made for learning, fun, school, a contest, etc. Not for work or hire.