Visualizing 2011

One of my favorite websites I discovered in the year 2011 was visualizing.org, a compendium of visually stunning infographics and videos in which creative people make sense of complex issues through data and design.

Below are a few of my favorite visualizations:

1) Notabilia, a beautiful visualization of the 100 Longest Articles for Deletion (AfD) on Wikipedia:

Like a garden, an online encyclopedia needs constant weeding. Unlike a garden, an online encyclopedia has thousands of potential gardeners. Over years Wikipedia has developed guidelines and policies to help editors collectively decide whether topics are suitable for inclusion or not. All articles, especially new ones, are reviewed by the community to determine if they meet Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. Any editor can nominate an article for deletion and, if this nomination is legitimate, a community discussion takes place where any fellow gardeners editors have the opportunity to make their voices heard. The usual process is to have a week-long discussion during which community members can discuss in favor or against keeping the article. At the end of this period an administrator reviews the discussion and speaks the final verdict.

We analyzed and visualized Article for Deletion (AfD) discussions in the English Wikipedia. The visualization above represents the 100 longest discussions that resulted in the deletion of the respective article. AfD discussions are represented by a thread starting at the bottom center. Each time a user joins an AfD discussion and recommends to keep, merge, or redirect the article a green segment leaning towards the left is added. Each time a user recommends to delete the article a red segment leaning towards the right is added. As the discussion progresses, the length of the segments as well as the angle slowly decay.

What decides whether consensus is reached is the administrator closing the AfD discussion, not a headcount. As a result, the proportion of Keeps and Deletes may be at odds with the final decision, as illustrated by the above visualization. AfD discussions also take a variety of shapes depending on how they evolve over time.

2) 7 Days of Earthquakes in Japan – a visualization of the quakes associated with the Tohuku 2011 earthquake off the coast of Japan.

3) Breaking bin Laden – how a single tweet about bin Laden’s death spread virally on Twitter.

Visualizing’s 2011 in review is well worth seeing.

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