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iraq_casuality_pixel.jpg
Kamel Makhloufi developed a simple but powerful pixel diagram [flickr.com] that highlights the past human death toll during the Iraq war. Each pixel has a color, where blue stands for "friendly", green represents "host", orange are "civilians" and grey denotes "enemies". The left diagram is ordered by category, whereas the right one lists the casualties by time.

Via DataPointed. See also CNN's Home and Away.

16 COMMENTS

I assume this graphic (like all graphics of this sort), are meant to influence us and make us believe that "war kills more innocent than guilty", but if you take that stance, then you change nothing and allow more crooks to emerge.

You neglected to provide a graphic of all the civilians killed in 911, it would have been a completely orange block. The fact is that if a government engages in terrorism, they can't use their civilian deaths (via minions like yourself) to ask for a "never mind, let's stop now".

Personally, I think an atomic bomb would do more damage, but would also solve the problem with less innocent deaths (our soldiers). The only "innocent" deaths are the American soldiers and allies that are trying (in spite of publications like this) to rid the world of these terrorists (that are viruses).

If "innocent" Iraqui/Afghanis don't want to die, well, they could move out (as many have) and stop supporting governments that spouse terrorism.

You've flipped the problem, the problem is not the number of innocent Iraquis killed, the problem is the terrorists actions/intent and what they would do if left alone. Our focus should be on killing the terrorists.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 1:12 AM
NM

NM, Iraq was not the perpetrator of 9/11. That's a simple fact, but a hard one for you to grasp, considering the handicap you are working with.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 1:55 AM
TP

How are the pixels organized in the diagram on the right? Is it random? Are the pixels organized by time of death? Is this only a compositional organization of color and shape?

I am struggling with the idea of denoting human life to a pixel. The human element is completely removed from these elements and the composition implies that the message is shrouded by static. Is this the intention?

I'm a fan of huge numbers to deliver a powerful message. Why should I care about what you are showing me? What do you want me to do with the message you are sharing with me? A message without action holds little attention.

I was assuming you were soliciting feed-forward based on your public posting :)

Kindest,

Ad Vogele

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 2:04 AM
Ad

Like Ad, I too have trouble representing human life as a pixel.

Reading the #Wikileaks warlogs, or even sections of it, or some kind of chronological graph w/locations, an interactive graphic, where clicking a point gives the name and circumstances gives a better idea of lives lost.

Maybe it's just my computer that doesn't allow the pixels to animate, don't know.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 3:07 AM

The presentation on this web site is deceptive. You are truncating the bottom of the image, thus making the gray ("enemy") section of the left hand pane appear smaller than it appears in the image on the source web site.

This is a very important error in the presentation, and I suggest that you should correct it immediatly.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 3:39 AM
MikeK

@NM "Our focus should be on killing the terrorists."

Then start with US Monopols and their generals.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 3:42 AM
OK

Thanks infosthetics

Ad : The pixels on the left are organized by time of death. From Flickr description, "This is to show you can dilute the media impact of a massacre by killing a few people each day for 6 years. Just remember that host nation + civilian + enemies = mostly Iraqis." As you said, the intention is to show what "noise" could mean if ordered.
As for the fact that I removed every human factor in this, this in intentional. I also made this other picture which maps the death more "academically", but where the important factor is not the image but the quote accompanying it.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melkaone/5120683291/

Linda : It's not animated, just a static image to get rid of all the eye candy I could.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 3:46 AM

Actually, NM, the "terrorists" in this "war on terror" (which, by definition, can never be won because it is against an ideal, not a physical enemy) are using innocent civilians as human shields. The civilians dont want them there any more than the armies do, and once you realize that you will realize that yes, innocent people dying, no matter where, is sad. As for 9/11. Nobody has proved who did it, and you can argue all you want about the terrorists, but as for definitive proof, I have yet to find any, considering the government lied in both the 9/11 Commission Report and the NIST Report. And do you understand how hard it would be to move? To leave behind not only your home, but possessions, family, and friends? To countries where assholes like you then blame them for your problems? And an atomic bomb? Really? The only thing they are good for is M.A.D. You really want to relive hiroshima and nagasaki

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 5:18 AM
DT

Thank you Kamel for directing me to your explanation on Flickr.

I think you raise a very interesting point on how people can become desensitized by an overwhelming amount of data. The problem I see from what I think you are trying to communicate is that data lacks context. Can you take this project even further and put a face, name and story to a select number of pixels? Do we force our virtues onto others (propaganda) or do we present people with raw facts in a way that will help in the formation of personal opinion?

Whether the data we use is honest or not is completely reliant upon the sources we choose to trust (like The Guardian). This is flawed much like history is flawed because each person develops their own opinion based on personal experience. As visual communicators, we tend to work off of third party information, which makes us more and more disconnected to the point we are trying to get across. How can we simplify this process so we can communicate information the public can use and appreciate?

As a visual communicator and educator, I become excited about the amazing potential your project could have in the ability to tell a story and glorify life. This could be incredible! :)

Best,

Ad Vogele

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 5:46 AM
Ad

The problem is the existence of government. We need to abolish the US military and the entire governmental structure, and instead exercise free trade using a real money system that is backed by a gold standard.

Private individuals that freely exchange and produce in a free market economy live peacefully as there is a clear and obvious incentive to do so.

Governments have all the reason in the world to stir up trouble at the tax expense of others; and the worse the situation it is, the better off government is.

Government is just a scam, and a con job. It must be eliminated. Soldiers are welfare recipients just like the welfare recipients we have living off the dole in countries all over the world. The military and governments produce nothing and destroy everything. Those who contract for government live off of destruction. (see broken window fallacy)

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 6:47 AM

Very interesting approach.

Tue 09 Nov 2010 at 2:51 PM

From the web site iraqbodycount.com
Iraq Body Count
Documented civilian deaths from violence
98,691 – 107,707

this is about the same civilian casualties after 10 days of bombing by the germans on london in WW2, a fraction of the civilian casualties of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and if you compared this to any other prolonged conflict (ie war fought over 7 years) it is probably the least amount of civilians killed in a major combat in the last 4000 years

Thu 11 Nov 2010 at 1:31 AM
garry

sorry got my facts wrong 40,000 people died in the london blitz still you get my point though I hope

Thu 11 Nov 2010 at 2:33 AM
garry

Kamel Makhloufi,

Thank you for your work — I think it's a necessary attempt, along a simple and blunt format that I was craving to see.
While I'm taken aback by the tone and connections that NM makes, I agree in a way: what you are trying to do should be done, and extended to every conflict, or cause of death. No, there is no 9/11 here, neither road casualities (the main killer of troops in Iraq, I was told once) not cardio-vascular accidents, Iraqi-Palestinian tension, and there should be, to make sense of it all.

For instance, I never saw how a similar graph about how many people died in the US in 2001 and how. Your blunt, simple approach is most likely what I need, what I want to, i only to make sense of all the flag-waving. (And don't tell me that I'm not a patriot for asking such a question, or that have no idea of the horror that I'm talking about: on 9/11, I waited all day for news from colleagues working nearby, and my brother was in *that* subway train in 1995—and if you need to google that last one to figure out what I'm talking about, shame on you.)

The cropping of the bottom end by IE's format is unfortunate (and trivial to fix) but I don't think that's the main bias. I like the “randomish” second graph, how it shows bluntly that a long war is rapidly against civilians, however it raises the bigger question of identifying militia fighters, Resistance, etc. Who decided who is a civilian? How come you have such accurate data, and the Lancet and others can't estimate the order of magnitude? You might want to include options to switch by estimation, to understand why methodology matters.

Sourcing you data pixel by pixel isn't really your approach as a designer, as I understand it, but opening all details to let people make sense of the war, and providing great feedback like you do is amazing. Mapping casualities by county of origin, providing links to personal stories could help render the whole think more human, it's been done, but you might want to argue that you basic presentation has its benefits.

Also, I would do something slightly more representative, and plot those on a time-scale: every day one pixel, deaths piled by day (five years, that might exceed most screen, so let's say one pixel per week) to show how irregular those were, how they dropped or raised, etc.

Thu 11 Nov 2010 at 4:27 AM

Kamel Makhloufi,

Thank you for your work — I think it's a necessary attempt, along a simple and blunt format that I was craving to see.
While I'm taken aback by the tone and connections that NM makes, I agree in a way: what you are trying to do should be done, and extended to every conflict, or cause of death. No, there is no 9/11 here, neither road casualities (the main killer of troops in Iraq, I was told once) not cardio-vascular accidents, Iraqi-Palestinian tension, and there should be, to make sense of it all.

For instance, I never saw how a similar graph about how many people died in the US in 2001 and how. Your blunt, simple approach is most likely what I need, what I want to, i only to make sense of all the flag-waving. (And don't tell me that I'm not a patriot for asking such a question, or that have no idea of the horror that I'm talking about: on 9/11, I waited all day for news from colleagues working nearby, and my brother was in *that* subway train in 1995—and if you need to google that last one to figure out what I'm talking about, shame on you.)

The cropping of the bottom end by IE's format is unfortunate (and trivial to fix) but I don't think that's the main bias. I like the “randomish” second graph, how it shows bluntly that a long war is rapidly against civilians, however it raises the bigger question of identifying militia fighters, Resistance, etc. Who decided who is a civilian? How come you have such accurate data, and the Lancet and others can't estimate the order of magnitude? You might want to include options to switch by estimation, to understand why methodology matters.

Sourcing you data pixel by pixel isn't really your approach as a designer, as I understand it, but opening all details to let people make sense of the war, and providing great feedback like you do is amazing. Mapping casualities by county of origin, providing links to personal stories could help render the whole think more human, it's been done, but you might want to argue that you basic presentation has its benefits.

Also, I would do something slightly more representative, and plot those on a time-scale: every day one pixel, deaths piled by day (five years, that might exceed most screen, so let's say one pixel per week) to show how irregular those were, how they dropped or raised, etc.

Thu 11 Nov 2010 at 4:27 AM

@NM you mean espouse, not spouse.

Mon 15 Nov 2010 at 12:36 PM
Chris
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