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Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
11-13-2014, 12:10 PM (This post was last modified: 11-13-2014 12:11 PM by Roozbeh Gh..)
Post: #1
Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
The visualization can be found at :


The visualization tries to capture complicated nature of relationships in notable key players in the middle east. Red lines indicate Love(allies) and Grey lines Hate(enemies). There are also dotted type of lines with Red/Grey color meaning as complicated (grey dotted line) and Good\have trade (red dotted line). Colored circles are used for endpoints and they are also labelled. Endpoint Colors seems to have meaning as being predominantly : Shia, Sunni, Non-Muslim, Group, Nation.

Clicking on any of the labels will focus on set of relationship centered on that key player. Hovering in main screen also isolates those relationships drawn over semi transparent background. After clicking on any label, an isolated graph will be shown which hovering mouse over labels now sometimes give more information as why they are considered having that color-relationship.

- The whole visualizations at the first glance doesn't give you any useful information. I would think clustering based on some criteria and then showing whole visualization would make it more meaningful.
- Non-muslim, Group and NATIONs are using same color. Which doesn't make that much sense. Probably if there was a criteria on religion, Sunni, Shia and Non muslim should have some encoding and Group/Nation some other type of encoding. As they do always overlap. (Later on I figured that another encoding channel is capitalization. CAPITAL letters indicate a nation. I would say odd and hard choice of encoding)
- Animation sequence and spatial spreading of labels works for most part but for example for USA, lots of labels do overlap, although there are still plenty of unoccupied space left in the screen.
- Lots of relationships does not have information related to them. Also for those that have the relationship information, I would prefer they included their source or link to a story.
- Some endpoint circles are like hollow, ie white inside, it seems that's the way they differentiate between Group and NATION. But how would you get that from the legend?!
- Very poor choice of colors. I think the choice of Green (which made most of labels green) is not visually appealing and also Love vertex colors are red and SHIA endpoints color are very similar. They only used 4 colors in the graph, they could have choose more visually distinct able colors.

I generally found topic of visualization interesting but I don't think they succeed in capturing and showing the complicated nature of HATE/LOVE relationship in that region.
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11-13-2014, 09:50 PM
Post: #2
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
This is a fun and interesting visualization.
The interactivity that the graph provides is good. Mouse hover gives information about a particular country or group. A single view shows all the different relationships of a particular country or group. The graph also allows user to select the type of relation to highlight, which is interesting and does provide some filtering against the cluttering produced by crossing lines.

It takes some effort to distinguish between dotted gray and dotted green lines and even more efforts to distinguish between a nation, group, Sunni, shia etc especially because of the colors used which do not stand out and thus fail at providing any visible distinguishing factor.
When multiple lines cross each other it becomes difficult to judge the destination of the line.
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11-14-2014, 02:33 PM
Post: #3
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
The transition for Mouse over and mouse click on the countries gives more idea of the relationships

There were a detailed instructions on how to use the graph.
Example, I was searching for a reset button to reset the network, after clicking on a particular country.
After reading through the instructions, clicking outside the lines did the job.

But certain encoding was unclear. Example, circle with no fill color and with filled colors.
On my laptop, The color encoding in the legend is not perceivable. Although the colors in the graph were clear enough.

Over all I felt the visualization is beautiful and the information was conveyed to me in fastest manner.
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11-15-2014, 10:39 AM
Post: #4
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
I agree with the critic, a broader range of colors for this visualization could have made it more effective. Also, there is no legend showing what the color of the endpoints of the links stand for. Along with the colors matching the those in the "predominantly" category, some of them are fully colored and some are hollow.

I really like the interactivity in this visualization. The movement of the nodes captivates the viewer's attention and shows the salient features quickly.
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11-15-2014, 11:28 AM (This post was last modified: 11-15-2014 11:29 AM by Matthew Turner.)
Post: #5
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
I like the idea of this visualization, but I definitely agree with some of the critiques that have been provided. Firstly, it is hard to discriminate between the colors that were chosen, speaking as one of the handful of colorblind people in the class. I think the fact that size and color are not separable channels has a bearing on this, as well as the (relative) similarity of the colors. I liked that they used a separate type of mark for 'complicated' relationships instead of using new colors.

Secondly, the spatial encoding channel is wasted. It appears that nodes are placed wherever there is room, resulting in an extremely cluttered network. The available interactions (which are admittedly very good) get around this issue by allowing users to filter out the relationships they are not interested in or to center a node within the network. I also like that the latter option provides some text with additional information about the selected entity.

Here is a similar visualization with some of the same data. I think representing these relationships as a matrix makes sense and avoids introducing so much clutter, which is probably true for any graph that is sufficiently dense.
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11-15-2014, 05:24 PM
Post: #6
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
This is quite a fascinating visualization.
I find it easy to understand and the rollover on each node is very informative. I also like the separate cluster formed when a node is clicked. It helps me get a better idea of the specifics. I too like the use of different style of lines for LOVE, HATE and STRAINED, GOOD. I also like that hovering over a node makes all other unrelated nodes and lines transparent.
The interpolation is quite well executed in this visualization.

I do feel like there is a lot of information in terms of the GOOD(trades, etc) category that it seems cluttered even when only that particular category is selected.
As most of the others have pointed out, it could have been better to use contrasting colors instead of grey and pink for the benefit of people who are color blind.

Barring these few problems, this visualization is quite pleasing.
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11-15-2014, 05:31 PM
Post: #7
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
Nice critique by Roozbeh. This visualization at a first glance looks very messy but after observing carefully, it gives information in very effective way.
Things I liked:
- Interaction is very good. You can get information about relationship on mouse hover and by mouse click, you can visualize that relationship.
-Much needed reset functionality is provided.

-I did not like the choice of colors. I found them confusing as there is no legend showing what the color of the endpoints represent what.
-It does not show information of each and every node,
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11-15-2014, 08:21 PM
Post: #8
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
I think this critique was very good. As mentioned, the colors and encoding channels are not as effective as they could be. I don't understand why information is encoded with the filled/empty circles, but the circles are not in the legend. It occurs to me that when I click on a country, the length of the links could have been used to indicate the strength of a relationship (though this may have made the visualization much messier).
If the intent was to show that Middle East politics are complicated, I think this succeeded very well. For more fine-grained information I'd say the visualization can be hard to read. Especially because the links have an angle in them that makes following the link difficult.
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11-15-2014, 08:38 PM
Post: #9
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
This is an interesting visualization particularly with the interactivity part. At first look, there couldn't be much information gained from the visualization and I agree with the critique of clustering on some criteria. However, the mouse hover and mouse click helps in understanding the information better. I think different encoding can be used for distinguishing between Nation, Sunni, Shia,Non-muslim and group. With the shape and color being similar, it is hard to find the difference between capitalized letters and those that are not capitalized.
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11-16-2014, 10:13 PM
Post: #10
RE: Week 12: Who likes whom in the middle east?
I like the topic of this visualization. We all know that the relationship in the middle east is very complicate, and this vis will help people who want to figure the relationship save a lot of time. This vis include the religion and relationship in each country. The good thing is that when your click one specific country. It will give you a detail view tells you the relationship that country has with other country. I also like the shaking of the link. It make you feel like you are touching a spider web.

the problem in this vis is that the big picture contain too many information. I think the big picture only list different country instead of provide a blue picture of the relation of middle east.
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