Beautiful and thought-provoking infographics

A couple weeks ago we tweeted a list by the KANTAR Information is Beautiful Awards of over 300 of the year’s best infographics and data-visualizations. Since then, we’ve been working our way through the list and thought we’d share a few of our personal favorites. Two of these are directly related to the work we do and one we just had to add because it was so elegant and powerful we couldn’t help ourselves.

Wikipedia Worldview (WWV)
It’s hard to imagine a cooler way to get an immediate sense for the vast amount of information currently available on Wikipedia. The WWV maps Wikipedia georeferences onto a 2-dimensional map of the world in real time. While the overall effect is like looking at nighttime satellite photos of earth—with clusters of light forming around major urban centers—the WWV offers much more than a photograph by allowing you to click on each location and to explore the information on Wikipedia that has been linked to each georeference. Add to that the ability to analyze the language-based distribution of the information, and you can spend hours with this constantly evolving infographic.

U.S. Gun Deaths in 2013
All politics aside, this interactive graphic is not only packed with data but is hauntingly beautiful. The simple design turns the individuals lost to gun violence into brightly colored shooting stars—they arc upward in orange threads that turn abruptly to grey at the moment the individual represented is killed. At first the stars launch slowly so that you can read the name and demographic data of the individual signified. The tragic amount of data, however, quickly forces the launch pace to accelerate until the many threads form an eery orange and gray wave in which individual threads are just barely distinguishable.

Online in 60 Seconds
This one has been pretty well circulated but, if you missed it, it’s definitely worth a look. As the title suggests, this infographic captures “everything” that happens online during a 60 second span displaying it all in a neatly presented pie chart that mimics a clock face. Statistics such as 204 million emails sent, 571 new websites created, and 20 million photos viewed convey the richness and immense amount of activity that characterize the ever more complex online world. They also make your own online activity feel like a very small drop in a very large pond. It makes some of us wish we didn’t know our tweets were competing with 278,000 others sent out during the same minute… you should probably follow @thenetmonitor to make sure you don’t miss any of them. : )

#IMWeekly: October 21, 2013

A new measure proposed by European lawmakers could require American companies to get clearance from European officials before “complying with United States warrants seeking private data.” A vote on the new measure, which was proposed in response to recent revelations about American spying by the NSA, is scheduled for October 21.

Le Monde reported that the NSA collected 70.3 million French telephone records during a 30-day period. In response, the French government summoned the US ambassador to demand an explanation for the NSA operation and to renew requests that the US cease its surveillance and enter into talks regarding protection of personal data. The report in Le Monde was co-written by Glenn Greenwald, the same reporter who originally revealed information about NSA surveillance based on leaks from Edward Snowden.

A new report by Der Spiegel found that the NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years, including hacking into the public email account of former president Felipe Calderon. A statement by the Mexican foreign ministry condemned the US surveillance operation, calling it “unacceptable, illegitimate, and against Mexican and international law.”

On October 19, the Moroccan government began blocking a number of websites and social media platforms, including Lakome, one of the country’s main independent media outlets. Lakome was believed to be the primary target of the government’s blocking efforts, as the site’s editor, Ali Anouzla, was arrested on September 17 after publishing an article containing a link to a video by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Many journalists and advocacy groups have called for Anouzla’s release.

Pakistani activists are using Twitter to voice their opposition to a three-month ban of messaging apps—including Viber, WhatsApp, Tango, and Skype—implemented by Pakistani’s Sindh provincial government (the province includes Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city).

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.

#IMWeekly: September 30, 2013

China recently enacted a new policy that allows Chinese Internet users to be charged with defamation (and sentenced to up to 3 years in jail) if they post a rumor online that is reposted more than 500 times or visited more than 5000 times. Earlier this month, a 16-year-old boy was detained under the policy for criticizing local police on Weibo.

Internet connectivity in Sudan dropped to almost nil last week, the result of a suspected government Web shut down in the face of anti-regime protests sparked by the ending of fuel subsidies. In the absence of Internet access, a group in Khartoum has launched a cell phone-based map of crowdsourced data about the protests.

United States
News broke last Friday that the NSA has been documenting American citizen’s social media connections since 2010. According to the New York Times, the data that has been collected “can identify [Americans’] associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information.”

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.

#IMWeekly: September 23, 2013

Late last month, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Law approved several amendments to the country’s ICT Act that, among other changes, make posting “fake and obscene” material online illegal. Human rights activists, worried that the amendments will lead to an increase in politically motivated arrests of bloggers and others (earlier this year, the government established a special committee to identify Internet users deemed to be “anti-Muslim”), are urging Parliament not to approve new version of the Act.

Brazil is considering requiring Internet companies to host data collected locally on servers located in Brazil. The proposed amendment to the country’s draft Marco Civil bill is widely seen as part of a backlash against PRISM and other US surveillance programs. The amendment is intended to protect the privacy of Brazilian Internet users, but some experts are worried that, because Brazil currently lacks specific data protection laws, a new local data storage policy may actually put privacy at risk.

The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, is blaming social media for instigating religious riots in the town of Muzaffarnagar earlier this month. The riots, in which at least 50 were killed and tens of thousands displaced from their homes, were sparked by the murder of three young men involved in a dispute about the harassment of a young woman. They escalated quickly, allegedly inflamed by local politicians intent on manipulating religious tensions for their own gain. Last week, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister stated at a press conference that social media was used to spread misinformation and hate speech and called for censorship to prevent further bloodshed.

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.

#IMWeekly: September 16, 2013

Chinese Internet users, worried about the implications of the country’s new anti-online rumor policy, are scrambling to “un-verify” their Weibo accounts. The new policy, part of a judicial decision made earlier this month, allows Chinese Internet users to be charged with defamation (and sentenced to up to 3 years in jail) if they post a rumor online that is reposted more than 500 times or visited more than 5000 times. Weibo users with verified accounts—which indicate that the user, generally a celebrity, is who he or she claims to be—are asking the microblogging site to remove their verified status in the hopes that this might prevent them from being as easily identified (and potentially charged with defamation) online.

More than 20,000 people gathered in Berlin earlier this month to protest against surveillance. Protestors at Freiheit Statt Angst (Freedom Not Fear), organized by a coalition of human rights organizations, political parties, and NGOs, spoke out against the effects of surveillance on press freedom and human rights, among other issues.

Activist Ngo Hao has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of publishing false and defaming information about government officials online and of trying to overthrow the government. Hao is one of at least 35 bloggers and cyberdissidents currently detained in Vietnam.

#imweekly is a regular round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To subscribe via RSS, click here.