Tag Archives: BBC

The Swiss and Immigration

Last week, the Swiss people narrowly rejected the principle of freedom of movement. This principles serves as one of the foundations of the European Union. And while Switzerland does not belong to the EU, its economy benefits from access to the single market via that freedom of movement principle. That may be an oversimplification perhaps, but it provides some context to the consternation in Europe over the Swiss people rejecting the principle.

This graphic is not particularly complex. It is a choropleth of the vote results. However, it does show that the vote was not unanimous. Rather it was contained to the cantons (analogous to states in the US) more rural in character, i.e. less urban places like Geneva.

Swiss immigration vote results

Swiss immigration vote results

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

The Flying V

We all know of the Flying V, the great hockey plan developed in the 1990s—wait, no, wrong one. I meant to talk about birds flying in formation. Because science is finally allowing us to understand the mechanisms of how and why birds fly in these tight, v-shaped formations. In a BBC article reporting on the most recent findings, the graphics team included a diagram showing just how formation flying works.

How the Flying V works

How the Flying V works

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

Deformed Tree Map

Yesterday the BBC published an article about the success of the United Kingdom’s creative industry especially given the not-so-successful economy of the last few years. Unfortunately, the article included the tree map below.

A not so necessary tree map

A not so necessary tree map

The problems are a few. First, a tree map is usually looking at two variables. One is encoded through the size of the block and the other often its colour. Here, colour means nothing. So you are instead looking at only the size of the blocks. Basically, the same type of information that would be clearer to differentiate if this were a bar chart.

Second, a tree map has a hierarchy of placement. In other words, even if you cannot tell how much larger one block is from another—we all know we are not so great at comparing areas—you know which block is larger than the other by their arrangement in the map. Here we see no such hierarchy. The smallest block follows the largest block, which itself follows three other blocks.

Now that arrangement would be acceptable if the tree map were nested. That is to say if the different industries were grouped within like industries. Because then you would order those nested blocks. But that is also something not happening here.

All in all, this would have been a lot more effective of a chart if it had simply been made into a bar chart.

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

Holiday Tidings…of War

I’ve been away for over two weeks on holiday. So to spread good cheer to all, today I am sharing an image from a series of maps the BBC put together to try and explain the civil war in South Sudan.

Ethnic groups and tribes of South Sudan

Ethnic groups and tribes of South Sudan

Credit for the piece goes to BBC graphics department.

Travelling in Space and Time

Following last week’s post about Doctor Who comes another because, since this is the last post of the week, you might as well enjoy it. This interactive graphic from the BBC looks at the Doctor travelling across time. And while you might dismiss it as being silly fun, pay close attention to the layering of timelines and the information provided in each line, i.e. click on one. Additionally, the bottom panel contains some broader context. Overall, this is a very smart piece.

The Doctor's Travels

The Doctor’s Travels

Credit for the piece goes to iibStudio and the BBC graphics department.

50 Years of the Doctor

Doctor Who? Exactly. This weekend, Saturday in fact, is the 50th anniversary of British sci-fi show Doctor Who. That is not to say it has been airing for 50 years. In the 1990s and early 2000s the show was off the air, living on only in audio broadcasts and novelisations. But in 2005, the show was relaunched and it slowly began to acquire a new generation of followers. Some, like your author, have watched it in the States first via SyFy since 2006.

Still 50ish years of television about time travelling through space in a blue police box makes for lots of data. And so back in March Simon Rogers created this infographic to explain some of the history of the show.

The Guide to Doctor Who

The Guide to Doctor Who

If you intend on watching the 50th special this weekend—or Monday in some movie theatres here in the States—and you want to brush up on the timeline of the Doctor and his travelling companions, the Guardian also has this graphic.

The Guardian's gallery of Doctors

The Guardian’s gallery of Doctors

But of course the BBC, which produces Doctor Who, has a more in-depth site about the history of the character and the show. Did I mention the content is displayed within the TARDIS? I know, it’s bigger on the inside.

The BBC's inside the TARDIS

The BBC’s inside the TARDIS

Have you ever watched the show? Do you have a favourite Doctor? A favourite companion?

Credit for the first Guardian piece goes to Simon Rogers.

Credit for the second Guardian piece goes to the Guardian’s Graphic News team.

Credit for the BBC piece goes to Christopher Ashton, Christine Jeavans, Helene Sears, Tian Yuan, Nick Davey, and Ben Fell.

How British is Great Britain?

Well, you will have to click through to the article for that data visualisation. But, I will provide you with the choropleth map of national identities. That is, how English do citizens in English authorities consider themselves? Scottish in Scotland? Welsh in Wales?

Strengths of national identities in Great Britain

Strengths of national identities in Great Britain

Credit for the piece goes to Mark Easton.

Zaatari Refugee Camp for Displaced Syrians

The Syrian crisis is pushing people out of Syria. Unfortunately, most of the refugees are fleeing to places not wholly equipped or supplied to handle such large numbers. In this interactive piece of journalism, the BBC explores the difficulties in just one camp, Zaatari in the desert of Jordan.

My favourite element is this interactive map. It uses four satellite photographs taken at a few months interval and compares the growth of the camp; the growth is striking. The piece contains a diagrammatic view of the camp, identifying key areas, e.g. education areas, as well as a comparison to a new refugee camp named Azraq to host the overflow population. Fortunately, that camp is being designed with the lessons learned from Zaatari.

Zaatari Camp in November 2012

Zaatari Camp in November 2012

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics team.

Paying a Bribe

Some say bribes grease the wheels of business. But if that is the case, where are the greasiest wheels? This interactive piece from the BBC showcases an interesting story. It maps who has paid bribes and the value thereof. Then it looks at corruption in the different sectors of the country and which is perceived to be the most corrupt.

A look at bribery

A look at bribery

Aesthetically this is not the finest piece. Some of the most interesting countries to view are in Africa and Southeast Asia, i.e. geographies near the equator. Unfortunately the designers here chose a map projection that emphasises Siberia and Arctic Canada at the expense of those very countries. Also, where did Greenland go? I know that the ice is melting, but I don’t think it’s melted that quickly. Furthermore, if the user clicks the “List” option, he or she is presented only with a list of geographies. None of them are selectable nor do they encode data. So why is the list there?

In short, the interface is a bit clunky and strangely designed. Line lengths are too long and it looks ugly. But, there are two interesting things going on here worth noting. First the legend here actually does not just show the range for the choropleth, but it also encodes the number of countries that fall within that range.  

Second, by clicking on a particular bin for the legend, the map filters for the selection. I think that from a design perspective, a lighter grey and a lighter stroke outline would have made the filtering a bit more prominent, but the idea is interesting. Unfortunately, I found no way of easily returning to an all-bin view of the map.

A piece for the BBC that misses a few, but also hits a few.

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics team.