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Week 2: Nations' Ranks from 1960 to 2004 in Infant Mortality Rates
09-03-2014, 07:17 PM
Post: #1
Week 2: Nations' Ranks from 1960 to 2004 in Infant Mortality Rates
[Image: infant_stats.html]

Infographic source:http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/0...stats.html

This hierarchical table graph displays a comparison of infant death rate rank between nations from 1960 to 2004. One can quickly see for countries listed whether the rank went to a higher infant death rate or a lower infant death rate by following the country from the left side (1960) to the right (2004) & any change in vertical location. The focus of the United States (this is from the New York Times) also can not be missed.

Visual encoding includes the nation’s moves from 1960 to 2004 either to a lower infant death rate (towards the top) with a darker colored line to connect the nation’s 1960 to 2004 ranks versus moves to a higher infant death rate (towards the bottom) with a lighter colored line to connect the nation’s 1960 to 2004 ranks. The lines utilize a Gestalt principle of connection as far as tying in the nation’s ranks from both sides of the chart. Another visual encoding is the fact that not only is the United States in bold, the connection line from 1960 to 2004 is also a completely different, darker color than any other connection line which is a popout channel.

Pros for the graph are that there is a very high data density but not to the point of distraction. This leads to a very high data to ink ratio where there is virtually no chart junk present & no visual embellishments at all keeping the information clean & concise. Data variation is clearly represented between 1960 & 2004 as far as the nations’ rankings. Even ties are represented by simple grouping at the connection line endpoint (see Netherlands, Germany, Greece, & Italy in 2004). After discovering that towards the top means lower infant deaths rates versus the bottom with higher infant deaths rates, the graph is a simple & clear representation of the change in ranks (if any) between 1960 & 2004 for the nations listed.

As far as a con for the visualization, the labels, lower/higher infant death rate at the top & bottom, are slightly distracting for the actual placement since at first glance it appears to be actually connected to those rank lines towards the top & bottom for those countries. another issue is scale distortion as far as what the rates & ranks actually mean as far as a quantifiable amount. There is no indication between one rank to the next what the actual delta is & what it is compared to other nations. Though not a large of a con, not all nations are listed. There is no way to tell if the countries present are the worst or best for infant mortality rates & why they are even included in the first place.

Suggested improvements are adding a level of interactivity such as roll-over effects to more easily connect the nation hovered over form its 1960 rank to its 2004 rank. In other words, the connection line between the years could use a popout channel effect as well as the nation in question. The suggested rollover interaction could also include actual metrics as far as the number of infant deaths for that year (depending if you are on the 1960 or 2004 side) & what the actual numeric ranking is. Though not critical, all nations that existed between 1960 & 2004 could also be present after clicking a “Show All” link or button.

* graphic is also attached


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Week 2: Nations' Ranks from 1960 to 2004 in Infant Mortality Rates - u0909249 - 09-03-2014 07:17 PM

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