Data visualization as multi-media narrative

I’ve been on a multimedia kick lately, digging for interesting examples of how journalists are telling their stories via this interesting catch-all for pictures, animations and all things that move with words. A multimedia interactive timeline produced back in September, 2010 persists, in my view, as a stellar example. Yes, that was over a year-and-a-half ago, but I challenge you to find anything this good that has come out since.

El Mundo, a Spanish newspaper with a very good data visualization design team, created an interactive data visualization/multi-media narrative recreating the attempts to rescue Chilean miners trapped in the copper-gold mine near Copiapó in August 5, 2010 “Rescate de los mineros chilenos atrapados bajo tierra” (“Rescue of Chilean Miners Trapped Underground”).

Created a month after the successful rescue this piece by David Almeda successfully deconstructs the messy reality of three rescue plans, changing information on the ground, technical obstacles and engineering solutions, as well as the human faces behind the crisis. If I counted correctly, there are about 30 animated frames in this, several of which contain infographics polished enough to be published in their own right. The only thing I’d add to this would be a scrubber with a timeline to allow users to move through this at their own pace and to get a sense of the timing.

This is a solid interactive and a beautifully understated display of process, timelines and information. In our ongoing fascination with data visualization, this reminds me of why I started this blog.

ElMundo_Chilean mining interactive

 

An interactive visualization for Chile’s Disappeared

On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet began a 17-year dictatorship in Chile that resulted in thousands of politically-related deaths and hundreds of individuals who mysteriously disappeared with no explanation given by the government. These people are known as Chile’s “disappeared.” An interactive map created by ArchivosChile (loosely translated as ArchivesChile) and developer Gabriel Mérida shows how many of these and other politically-motivated, government-sponsored murders occurred between September and December, 1973, the start of Pinochet’s regime.

People are still searching

It is particularly poignant that this map, essentially a data visualization mash-up of GoogleMaps and data from Chile’s “Servicio Medico Legal” (Medical Legal Services office) has as one of its core navigation items a query box where one may search by a victim’s name. As in, people are still searching. One may also search by city.

It’s relatively intuitive (given it’s objective, it has to be). One of the most compelling features is the “play” option that allows you to simply sit back and watch the dramatic and unfortunate escalation of deaths within these four short months.

The interactive is surprisingly text-based, but does the job. The silhouette icons that point to each victim are a bit clunky and obscure the actual numbers when you arrive at the default zoom view–something that a smaller visual (an “x,” a dot, a square) could have avoided. But once you zoom in by city block, they become a powerful reminder of why you are, indeed, interacting with this map. Clicking on each victim displays a pop-up which helpfully displays the victim’s name, cause of death, source, medical examiner and other data.

Puzzlingly, the legend is displayed as a dropdown, which takes away from the intuitiveness of the map. But overall, it gets the grim job done.

ArchivosChile_screenshot