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Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
09-25-2014, 11:30 PM
Post: #1
Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
Link to the viz : http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/...T_MAP.html

The visualization shows the medal tally for all the countries participating in the Olympics from year 1896 to 2008. There is slider to view the data for every Olympic game during that time. The channel used to encode the tally is size. Each country has a node, whose size represents the number of medal it won in a specific year. The second channel used to encode information in this visualization is color. Six colors are used to show which continent a country is in, Antarctica is left out in this viz for obvious reasons. The viz is an interactive one, therefore specific information about the nodes can be viewed by scrolling over them with the mouse.

The data is represented differently in 2 views in 2 tabs : geographic view and by ranking view.
In the geographic view, the color channel can be used to visually compare the winnings of each continent, within which, the size of the nodes can be used to compare the same among all countries.
In the by ranking view, the nodes are ordered by their sizes while retaining their color. This allows the viewer to see the countries that win the maximum number of medal in a single glance.

Apart from the two views, a table is also present that updates to show all the countries and its medal tally for the specific time frame.

Overall, I think that it is an effective visualization. The two channels i.e. size and color, are used smartly to convey the message.
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09-26-2014, 12:53 PM
Post: #2
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
I think that this is an effective visualization. It is easy for me to navigate through the years and get a rough sense of what countries received the most medals. I like the multiple view options. I think that having the ranking page compliments the weaknesses of the geographic tab and vice versa. I think the visualization could be improved by finding a way to represent the types of medals received in each node. For example each circle could be a pie chart representing bronze, silver, and gold. That way I wouldn't have to mouse over each entity to see the medal count. The graphic could also be misleading in that it shows overall medal count and not the quality of the medals received. This would remove the continent based color coding, but since we have both a geographic representation and a ranking representation I think the colors become redundant on the geographic channel at least. I also want to say, that I think the authors made exceptional use of movement and transitions in the graphic. When I switch between tabs the countries move to their ranking position so I can easily follow them with my eyes. Also when I switch between years the existing circles move and change shape instead of just statically switching. This really helped me keep track of everything.
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09-26-2014, 02:16 PM
Post: #3
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
I agree that this is an effective visualization to show a map of Olympic medal of countries. This visualization show the number of Olympic medal different countries won each game. Nodes are represented for each country which won at least one medal and uses node size to differ medal amount. It also use color and location to indicate the continent which these countries come from (I did not notice that at first glance), which is interesting and pretty from my view. The bar on the top could be used to change the game years, and another option on the top is to rank the node by its medal number and list all them in a queen.

Something I think could improve this visualization are:
1. The author of this visualization use same color and a world map node location to indicate the continent each country belong to, which means he think continent is an important factor to look at. Then I think the viz should show the number of medal each continent won but it did not. Maybe it could give another option like rank node by continent and list thme.
2. The visualization does not give a graph to show the number of all medal each country won in the history of all Olympic games, which I think is an important data when check Olympic games.
3. The bar on the top to move year is a little slow. If it could move more smoothly and interactively, then we can see the change of metal number of each country along with the years, which would be cooler.
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09-26-2014, 03:51 PM
Post: #4
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
I agree that if the task abstraction is to discover which country wins the most total medals per year that this is an effective visualization; however, if your task is to compare data or identify trends, it is not as effective.

As we know, the area encoding channel is not the best and can cause some misinterpretation when conduction comparisons. For example, if you look at the geographic view for 1972 it can be hard to tell that Poland and Bulgaria are the exact same size due to the relative size illusion. Poland, surrounded by larger areas looks smaller, where as Bulgaria, surrounded by smaller areas, looks bigger.

The visualization relies to much on the rollover to find values. It causes the user to have to utilize memory for comparing several of the data points. For countries that do not have their name associated with the area, you have to remember the location you were looking at, the name of the country, and the medal count in order to compare it with other data points.

With time series data I would like to be able to identify trends over the years. There is really no way to do trend analysis using this visualization.
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09-27-2014, 09:40 AM (This post was last modified: 09-27-2014 09:40 AM by mathewa.)
Post: #5
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
My first impression of this visualization was that it was effective and expressive. I thought it was clever how the coding allowed the user to key on the geography or ranking and then by year.

After reading jdawson's post above, I have several reservations about the viz.

First, it really depends on the task abstraction. On one hand multi faceted task abstractions allow the user to see connections in the data. On the other hand, multi faceted abstractions can actually confuse the user. When demonstrating more than one data view, it's important to be clever in the interaction. In this example, jdawson's comment " to discover which country wins the most total medals per year that this is an effective visualization; however, if your task is to compare data or identify trends, it is not as effective." is spot on. How can I keep several country's bubble sizes in memory from year to year? Maybe I could for a couple of years -- but with often abrupt changes in medal counts from year to year it's nearly impossible to see any long run trends.

The number of medals is only shown as a roll over. This doesn't allow the comparison of gold versus gold from country to country or year to year which I, and probably other users, were interested in. Also, would have liked to see a grand total comparison of medals for all years or maybe a range of years.

Overall, I find this to be an effective visualization but there are still many aspects that can be improved. But to show trends or medal breakdown would add a lot more complexity to the encoding. Could there be a third tab where the user could pick different years and countries to compare the trends? Yes, but again, this would take a lot of clever encoding. I think this is one of the trade offs not discussed too much so far: the time of the encoding. Sure, from a user's point of view, the information could be more interactive and more clear. But how much complexity does this add and encoding time does this add?
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09-27-2014, 06:34 PM
Post: #6
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
I feel this is an effective visualization. The user can go over the medal tally for countries from 1896 to 2008. The data is not cluttered and viewer can easily see where a country stands in the medal tally by using the "by ranking" visualization.

I agree that this visualization won't be effective if we want to compare data across years. But again, to include data from different years in the same graph will be cumbersome and the graph will be cluttered and will make the viewer more confused. So, I feel the visualization presented is effective and does not cause any confusion to the user.

The visual encoding of different colors for different countries is effective.
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09-27-2014, 08:35 PM
Post: #7
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
First of all, a great critique. Some of the points I would like to highlight about the visualization are as follows:

1) As the size of the bubbles gets smaller, it is increasingly difficult to see the name of the countries representing the bubbles.
2) From the ranking view, we can easily find out the countries receiving the highest number of medals, rather than searching for them in the geographic view.
3) The mouse rollover is really useful as the users can know the number of gold,silver and bronze medals got by the country from the pop up.
4) The medal count list is also useful, as the users can know the number and type of medals got by the countries receiving really less number of medals and correspondingly having a much less size. Thus it is hard to find out these countries from the geographic and ranking view.
5) Instead of the continent determining the color representing a country, if the range of the medal count would had been a criteria determining the color representing a country, it would have been more useful and as a result, the users at once would have an idea about the number of medals got by the country.
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09-28-2014, 03:21 PM
Post: #8
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
This is a great piece of visualization.
The color channel used for geographic divisions and size channel used for performance ranking division is very well suited.
The mouse rollover highlighting information regarding olympics performance of each country and a mouse click revealing further detailed performance overview is also very smartly represented.
The only thing is that the three colors used for three types of medals is not clear at first. Only after clicking on the country, we get to know which color represents which medal(gold, silver or bronze). But again this is very trivial as I think one can easily infer them.

Overall this visualization effectively conveys the ranking and peformance overview of each country and different regions in the world in olympics over the years.
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09-28-2014, 05:13 PM
Post: #9
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
The article provides a great piece of visualization of olympic medals won by different countries over the years. Following are a few pros and cons I felt while looking at it.

Pros:
- The canvas space has been used very effectively. The bubbles are sized proportionately and therefore the designer could put in a lot of information in the visualization.
- Rollover effects and detailed information of medals in each category is provided. So, for an user, curious to know about the medal tally, this is a one-stop destination.
- I really like the way the data is potrayed when we switch from geographic to ranking view. The designer has taken good care to visualize the data in a way which is intuitive. Also, this makes comprehending and analyzing the data very simple and effective.

Cons:
- The background could be changed to a world map, which would make it visually intriguing.
- The color encoding is based on geographic postion in both the views. The designer can make a toggle button using which the user can also encode the colors in ranking mode.
- Since this is a time-series data, one might want to do a regression plot. No such option is provided here though. This, however, would add to the complexity of the plot and increase clutter. One possible way to avoid this, can be to add different tabs for doing regression plot and also compare medal tallies for two countries.
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09-28-2014, 05:36 PM
Post: #10
RE: Week 5 : A Map of Olympic Medals
I like the idea that in the geographic view all spheres form a world map and are differentiated based on the continent using color channel. It is easy to get a general view if someone wants to compare the medal numbers between continents. And the interpolation effect between two continuous years makes people easy to see the medal change for a particular country.

One thing I think the visualization can improve is that they did not represent the number of each medal kind well. People have to move their mouse to see the detail for a country and it is hard to compare a single kind of medal among countries. I think it would be better to create different views for gold, silver and bronze numbers and people can use tabs to choose among those views.
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