Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Visualization of drone strikes...
In sight, in mind
THE best data visualisations are the products of a desperate, raw urgency to inform. That power is packed in the punch of Pitch Interactive, an interactive design firm in Berkeley, California. On March 25th it released a sophisticated visualisation of American drone attacks, entitled "Out of sight, out of mind."
Click here for animation:
The chart brings together every reported drone strike in Pakistan since 2004 by date, location and number of fatalities (identifying whether they were civilians, children or high-profile targets). The vertical lines for each strike and bars for victims underscore the degree to which the strikes were stepped up in 2009-10 under President Barack Obama—and they show the degree to which the attacks have tapered off slightly since that peak.
One can view an animated version of the chart, which "builds itself" as a time series. (Click on the image to go to the site for the animated version.) Each line represents an attack; mousing over them reveals specific details, according to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the New America Foundation. A second interactive infographic in the project shows the aggregated number of victims by month, presented as a horizontal bar chart.
The project was the brainchild of Wesley Grubbs, the creative and technology director at Pitch. He collected the data and guided the narration and animation development. Mladen Balog created the initial designs and its overall look and feel. Nicholas Yahnke did some data research and verification, and built the site in HTML5. It took four weeks to pull together.
Mr Grubbs was motived by the inadequacies of attempts by others to present the data. “The data visualisations we found were either geographic in nature or lacked a narrative to help inform people in an engaging way,” he said. The group was also inspired by a recent interactive chart on gun violence in America by Periscopic, a Portland-based data-visualisation agency, which used a similar technique of aggregating single lines to create a time-series narrative.
Pitch was established in 2007, and is famous for its work for clients such as GE, as well as projects that have been included in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, notably a flowing-chart that visualised calls to New York’s 311 complaint hotline over a 24-hour period. Next, Pitch is considering expanding the drone visualisation to include attacks in Yemen and Somalia. It is also looking into visualisations of scientific data, and of human activity data from the “quantitative self” movement.