Keeping with the unplanned theme of this week, i.e. things going on in the Middle East and Arab world, let’s take a look at another piece of work from Spiegel. Unfortunately, this one is not so much in English. The graphics, yes, the supporting context, no.
There are seven of them, this looks at what the designers termed Halal Internet. It looks delicious.
And while this looks delicious, it’s white chocolate, unfortunately. But change that bit, and I would be okay eating it.
Check out the article for the rest.
Credit for the piece goes to Klaas Glenewinkel and Jess Smee.
Yesterday we looked at the Russian sale of advanced surface-to-air missiles to Iran. Let’s stay in the Middle East and look at one of the forces that Iran—among many others, the US included—is fighting: ISIS, or Islamic State. We all know it from its ruthless, zealous, brutal application of Islamic law to the territories it controls. But is the organisation itself really that “religious”?
Der Spiegel obtained documents in late 2014 that had been in the possession of Hajj Bakr, who had quietly outlined much of the structure of ISIS and how the group would function. The article is a thrilling read, if you are into these kinds of things, and depicts an ISIS different than what many would possibly suspect.
So why are we talking about it here? Because organisations require diagrams or flow charts of responsibilities. The folder of files that Spiegel obtained included just such things, and below is an example included in the article.
Perhaps the 21st century version of the Pentagon papers, the ‘War Logs’, as they are being called, consist of some 90,000 classified documents centring on the Afghanistan War. While they do not paint a necessarily different picture from what is known publicly, the War Logs do provide interesting glimpses into the war, a war that, like any other, is a messy and ugly business despite the polish of design, propaganda, and the media. To put it differently and perhaps in another sense, the War Logs offer depth down to the ground-level, unpleasant details of warzone combat. But the documents lack an overall, strategic-level—I daresay antiseptic—breadth of understanding. The War Logs suffer from a lack of the broader context—but they do provide useful and interesting stories, vignettes, and anecdotes that flesh out the story we all broadly know.
The Guardian is one of three main newspapers that received the leaks in advance; the others were the New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel. And one of the things the Guardian did was create an interactive piece exploring improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and where and when they occurred in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.
While I understand the use of Google maps, I always see the map as a distraction. For example, why in a story about Afghanistan do I need to see a map that includes the small cities of India. To some degree, the same can be said about the bordering countries like Iran and Pakistan—but as those countries are along the border and are to varying degrees involved in the action, their inclusion can be understood on a case-by-case basis.
Choice of map aside, the piece highlights the detonation of IEDs as circles whose area reflects the number of casualties. The colour of each circle represents which ‘group’ of people had the most casualties: civilians, Coalition soldiers, or Afghan soldiers. However, by reducing the data to a single circle of a single colour, we lose the potential added depth of breaking down the event into the deaths of soldiers and civilians alike. Do I have an instant solution on hand? No. But I do note that if one clicks on the specific event, a window appears that breaks down the event into said figures.
One of the more interesting things about this whole story is that at least the Guardian is putting out the data as a spreadsheet. Perhaps in the near to intermediate future those with the time and inclination will take that information and make something truly interesting for the public’s consumption.