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iraq_casualties_avatars.jpg
yet another infographic from the New York Times, depicting the amounts of casualties in Iraq over time, cause of death & victim category. this visualization seems unique by its unusual large size, & seemingly inefficient depiction of quantitative information by the size & iconography of numerous avatars.

is it?

see also Iraq casualties infographic & Iraq war fatalities & Baghdad versus San Francisco & casualties as candy & How 9/11 changed America & conspicuous casualties.

[link: nytimes.com|via folksonomy.com]

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iraq_casualties_avatars2.jpg

17 COMMENTS

All females are civilians, all men are armed forced. What about male civilans? female soldiers?

That's a very bad example of how to enforce gender stereotypes :(

Fri 16 Feb 2007 at 4:06 PM
akuhn

That is an amazing visualization.

Regarding stereotypes: I can't tell the gender from the icons used to depict soldiers (do female soldiers were dresses?). Also the icons used to depict civilians (if you consider the type of clothing that is common in Arab countries) does not give an obvious hint regarding the sex.

Fri 16 Feb 2007 at 6:29 PM
elias

I thought it was interesting that they decided to make a special category for decapitated/strangled. Do all causes of death fall into those categories?

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 12:28 AM
Will Hawkins

Would I be the first one to wonder why you don't mention these are American (& coalition) casualties?

People outside USA wonder if you consider Iraqies as human beings.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 1:12 AM
B

I thought this visualization was a mess. The same iconography is used for 11 deaths as it is for 88 deaths. A little actual size representation would have been useful. Not too mention its just plain ugly.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 1:42 AM

yep. terrible design.

and the numbers seem to be skewed low as well.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 2:11 AM
ok

b, the civilians are presumably Iraqis, and so are the police and Iraqi forces (look at the legend!).

But the graphic is really quite bad, it's impossible to tell how many people died on a particular day or in a particular city, and using the same size figure for different numbers makes that basically pointless.

The only thing it does is show them as (almost) individual people, which may make a bigger impression than just hearing yet another number.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 3:24 AM

I think it's a good attempt. Given some time I'm sure this designer could have pushed it a little further. I like the icons of people. As Maya Angelou said after 9/11: "we have to remember one, not just the big number, but each one" (paraphrased). And I think this tends toward that end. I agree with some of the others about the size issue representing a larger number. That doesn't work. Perhaps they could have make the icons smaller so they could represent each individual. They are representing a ton of information in this graphic (timeline, weapons used, type of person, location, origin of person). I'm not sure what the context was, but perhaps they could have separated it into two images to convey their point better?

I think the people icons are a great way to convey that this is simply one month in Iraq and there are a lot of fatalaties.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 5:05 AM
krees

When you say "yet another infographic from the New York Times" please keep in mind that the opinion pages of the Times are completely separate from the news pages. The previously mentioned Iraq casualties infographic was designed by the Times infographics staff. This graphic was designed for the opinion section by outside designers.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 5:34 AM
k

thank you for that clarification, k, I was already doubtful whether this infographic was designed by the in-house NYT team. unfortunately, I cannot find the original article it was linked to.

would anyone know the true authors of this infographic?

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 10:41 AM
infosthetics

I know this is a side point to this thread regarding to the quality of this infographic, but the purpose and intent of this infographic is clear- to make the conflict in Iraq look far worse and far more costly than it actually has been in terms of casualties, comparitively speaking. Is there any compelling reason why a similiar infographic has not been constructed which depicts the number of persons killed in automobile accidents in the U.S. domestically (> 160,000) or the number of abortions (> 4,000,000) ocurring in the same four-year timespan of the Iraq War? What drives the authors of this infographic to construct an infographic pertaining to the metrics of one kind of event or incident, but not other kinds of incidents, especially those events whose statistics and numbers are far greater in comparison? Im not dismissing the need or the utility for creating infographics in general or this specific infographic, but taking this graphic at face value strips it of any context, and it can ultimately be misleading when not juxtaposed against any other relevant ancillary information and data which would give the reader "the bigger picture". Just some food for thought.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 3:19 PM
Vince

I agree with vince in the last post. The information depicted here is clear as day. If you want to get side-tracked with how civilian icons are women and soldiers are male, then come up with a better graphic for visually representing this information in the limited space given. That's the point of info graphics: providing information that one can understand clearly and efficiently. This graph was about the casualties of ONE MONTH in Iraq. Adding layers to that data would make this convoluted and an absolute mess. The layers are endless that you could put on top of this.

Sat 17 Feb 2007 at 3:46 PM

The information here is that there's allot, I think the rest was meant to be filler. To me this was not very informative but I don't get the sense it's supposed to be.

Sun 18 Feb 2007 at 4:46 PM
Jakob Sklar

vince has it right--this is pure propoganda on the part of the NYT. Its primary purpose is to be big and overwhelming and impenetrable, to convey the impression that the Iraq situation is unmanageable.

Sun 18 Feb 2007 at 7:22 PM
euphrosyne

The designer is alice cheng of mgmt. They do a fair amount of Times editorial work, I believe.

Wed 21 Feb 2007 at 4:51 AM

A few clarity issues here. I think this is an attempt at a "shock and awe" graphic. The icon system is very ambitious. The lines pointing to incident locations are difficult to follow, and seems like design elements, not informative design elements.
A few suggestions:
- Show actual number of people with icons, do not adjust icon size.(this would help emphasize the original intent, ie: sheer number of people)
- Show method of dying as a side bar. Important as a pattern, and could key method to people type.
- Keep map, but remove lines -- then simply put number of deaths on specific map locations.
- The Otto Neurath style icon design can come off as campy, and they could be simplified. Agree with the gender issues mentioned above.

Thu 22 Feb 2007 at 3:33 AM
Lin W

> far worse and far more costly than it actually has been in terms of casualties

> Is there any compelling reason why a similiar infographic has not been constructed which depicts the number of persons killed in automobile accidents in the U.S. domestically (> 160,000) or the number of abortions (> 4,000,000) ocurring in the same four-year timespan of the Iraq War?

Well: there has been far more Iraqi casualities then automobile accidents or abortion in the US; but, as I said: those don't count to the racist that you are, vince.

Tue 27 Feb 2007 at 2:58 AM
B
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