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.
I’m an avid follower of Formula 1 motor sport, so when I saw the “stack flow” visualization shown above on the Impure blog I was intrigued. The stack flow shows the 590 most populated cities sorted column-by-column according to their populations every five years between 1950 and 2010, and projected to 2025. This kind of data is similar to the lap-by-lap placings of drivers in a (F1) motor race. Shown below is the lap chart for the 2011 Chinese F1 Grand Prix.
As static displays of data both the stack flow and lap chart can be difficult to comprehend. Did you notice Mark Webber’s amazing drive from 18th on the grid to 3rd at the chequered flag? How about Dhaka’s rise from near the bottom of the rankings in 1950 to the world’s fourth largest city by 2025?
I didn’t think so. I knew about the former so could look for it but was able to find the latter fairly easily because the stack flow is interactive. Brushing a city highlights it in the visualization making it easier to see how its population rank changes over time (see examples below). This interactive element is just what is needed to make lap charts more comprehensible.
[ via Visualizing.org ]