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Depicting THE GLOBAL FLOW OF PEOPLE

Having worked with demographic data for years (as a writer and artist) I have acquired some ability to manipulate and read spreadsheets in order to derive meaning from them. Full time demographers and other researchers have honed the same skills, but for most of us, nothing can compare to the near-instantaneous glance that visual display can provide.

To provide a beautiful example check out The Global Flow of People,  an intereactive infographic that depicts the migration of humans to and from world regions,developed at the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.   Researchers Nikola SanderGuy J. Abel & Ramon Bauer  working with designer Elvira Stein used color and shape to create a powerful display of complex data.

Origins and destinations are represented by the circle’s segments. Each region/country is assigned a colour. Flows have the same colour as their origin and the width indicates their size.

So many stories can be told from this one elegant piece of work, representing volumes of data presented it for our minds to readily digest. Here’s just one: the changing patterns in emigration in South Asia by 5-year increments.

SouthAsia

This timeframe spans the ‘War on Terror’ as well as the rise of India as a competitive economy. There are dozens of insightful relationships to inquire about, just from this one slice of the data. Why is there an uptick in emmigration to Iran from Europe in 1995-2000 and from the US in 2000-2005?  Who are the South-east Asians who are moving into Bangladesh?

Visit the interactive master post to experiment with  the original interactive graphic where you can which will examine a single region, break out by country, and show data from four different 5-year time frames.

 

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Non-Verbal Olympic Protests Fly Below Radar

2014-winter-olympics-5710368030588928-hpThe beauty of visual communication is the powerful impact of a glance. In a fraction of a second our big visual brains read and interpret nonverbal messages like shape and color and symbol.

Google made a big statement today without saying a word. They posted a google doodle made of Olympic winter sport figures on the colors of the rainbow. They did reinforce it with a quote from the Olympic Charter that leaves little doubt of their intention:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

la-sp-sn-pussy-riot-homage-alexey-sobolev-2014-001In a country struggling to define the rights of political and artistic  speech it can permit, Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev plainly displayed the bottom of his snowboard, painted with what is clearly an homage to the outlawed punk rock band Pussy Riot, whose knit masks have become a signature of their protests.

Visual statements like these speed messages to the brain and evade the censors, at least for a while. The power of image cannot be denied. Are you using your visual messages to their fullest advantage in your communications?