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Visual Display of Quantitative Information
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This material may be old hat to readers of this forum, but it looks intriguing.
-- Pierre Scalise (email)
Thank you Kindly Contributor Pierre Scalise.
These network diagrams provoke the question: What is the space that network diagrams reside in? I suppose the nodes are positioned relative to one another which means there must be many diagrammatic arrangements consistent with a data set, and that the inferences about social networks perhaps depend on the arrangment chosen.
Are social network diagrams somewhat like constellation (star-myth) maps? That is, self-referential and somewhat indeterminate.
More generally, in thinking about diagrams that show links, it is helpful early on to identify the space in which the linked nouns are placed.
See also the thread on analytical issues in causal diagrams: https://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000yO&topic_id=1&topic=
-- Edward Tufte
While a creative director at Xplane, I recall a project with famous British historian, James Burke. He called with a request to visualize his theories about "connections" through history. It's hard to miss his books, since he has more than 5 on the same topic: that history and major inventions and discoveries were the result of seemingly random social meetings or links between major AND minor people.
This was the most difficult information design problem I've ever faced. His own hand drawn maps were mind blowing. How one could link social networks across centuries of time - BUT, the amazing part of Mr. Burke's ideas is that even if 100+ years separate people, the connection can still be made.
In many ways, his TV shows that go by the name Connections are the most appropriate format for his time jumping framework. The magic of editing in video can provide a scenario where you are standing in a Civil War battlefield in one moment, and then a quick cut and he's in the Battle of Hastings the next - making a point about weapons all the while. - this is a format that print has a hard time trumping.
I miss James Burke, and my 3 hours with him in a Detroit conference room are my most treasured.
-- Lin Wilson (email)
This form of social network is well documented in visual and textual form by Pete Frame - British Rock Historian. He neatly describes in words and diagrams the varied and complex relationships between British Rock bands in his book "The Complete Rock Family Trees" (try Amazon). His book is well worth reading for the representation of the social networks as much as interest in the history of British Rock.
-- Simon Robinson (email)
I'm interested in animated data displays. It would be interesting to hear Ask ET readers' thoughts about the following data displays of social networks recently published with a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine:
Christakis NA and Fowler JH. The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network. N Engl J Med 2008;358:2249-58. The animated figure is available here: animated social network figure
A static figure published in the NY Times is below.
What are these figures biggest strengths? How could they be improved?
-- Aurora Matzkin (email)