is a visualization expert with more than a decade's experience working in both industry and academia.
Visualization as I see it.
The Lowy Institute has just published its 11th annual poll surveying Australian public opinion on a range of foreign policy issues.
A friend pointed me to an infographic summarising some of the poll’s key findings. It was designed by Ben Spraggon for ABC News Online.
The Feelings Towards Other Countries thermometer is similar to the temperature scale chart presented in the original report. It’s a natural representation of the answers to the survey question:
Please rate your feelings towards some countries, with one hundred meaning a very warm, favourable feeling, zero meaning a very cold, unfavourable feeling, and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred: the higher the number the more favourable your feelings are toward that country. If you have no opinion or have never heard of that country, please say so.
Feelings towards 18 countries were canvassed – I’m left wondering why those particular 18 were selected; the report doesn’t say. The report also indicates that this question has been asked each year since 2006. I’d like to have seen this historical data charted but perhaps there is too much flux in the set of countries that comprise each year’s question.
The Dealing With Global Warming and Military Involvement in Afghanistan are excellent examples of how to present this kind of historical data. The line charts Ben uses are reproductions of similar charts in the Lowy Institute report. You can clearly see a decline in public concern for the seriousness and urgency of global warming and of tackling it as a matter of priority. Similarly, public support for Australia’s continued military engagement in Afghanistan continues to fall.
I think similar line charts would have provided a better representation of the Concern About Asylum Seekers data. Ben has chosen a similar treatment to that given in the report with the exception that in the report the bars are aligned such that positive and negative sentiment can be more easily contrasted.
As the infographic was commissioned for ABC News, I guess Ben focussed on the questions that were newsworthy at the time. There are many more questions covered by the survey, e.g. opinions on nuclear power, terrorism, ANZUS, WikiLeaks and Indonsia, with accompanying charts that visualize the responses and tables holding the raw data. It makes for interesting reading.
Upon news of Osama bin Laden’s death Twitter recorded the highest sustained rate of tweets in its history. They provided the annotated chart shown above in which the number of tweets per second exceeds 3000 for more than one and a half hours.
In the days that followed the public response has run the full gamut of emotions from wild rejoicing to deep sorrow, and I’ve found myself wondering what the prevailing mood of the population has been. The New York Times has attempted to answer this question at least with regard to its readership. They asked their readers:
Was his death significant in our war against terror? And do you have a negative or positive view of this event?
and 13,864 of them responded by plotting their answers on a graph and leaving a comment. The graph is shown below; each dot represents a comment. I couldn’t find any information regarding what the colour of each dot represents but I suspect it’s the number of respondents who clicked in that spot – the darker the colour the larger the number of clicks.
The chart is interactive allowing you to browse the respondents’ comments. You can see that the positive & significant quadrant received the most responses. There’s also a strong correlation between responses to the two questions (see the x = y cluster). I can also see clusters of responses that represent strongly held positions: these lie in the corners of the chart and at the extremes of each axis.