Blog Post 1: the Arabic Spring timeline



On Dec.18 2010, a stallholder in Tunisia set fire on himself to protest the brutality of the police. At that time, the region kept unrest for decades and the government failed to solve the deterioration of unemployment. Soon after this incident, surges of riots, demonstrations and even civil wars spread throughout Arabian countries and surroundings until the first half of 2012.

At the beginning of 2012, the Guardian released an interactive timeline of the Arab Spring, recording and sorting out milestones of the whole revolution among multiple counties. Reflecting the project’s title as the “the Path of Protest”, the main visual structure is a road. It’s a good metaphor to organize chronicles. There are two navigation accesses, the ruler-like bar and the navigation bar. The dynamic visual effect is really cool.

Visualization should serve stories. This project well organized various events during the two-year revolution. Information was sorted into three categories: when, what and where.

  • When: At the top is the timeline, readers are navigated to a selected time period by dragging the bar on the ruler-like timeline. Readers can easily fix the time point of certain events.
  • What: On the “road”, there are four types of protests, including regional and international actions and responses. Logos of four keys are distinctive in color and meanings. A thumbnail of the article with a photo and text introduction will emerge when readers hover mouse over each bubble. Sources of articles are not only from the Guardian but also other credible media. It’s a good strategy to make sure that articles are comprehensive enough.
  • Where: It’s easy to recognize that Egypt, Libya and Saudi Arabia experienced most protests because of more intensive bubbles.

One thing I’m thinking about is the bar with country names at the end of the main view. Names of countries are placed in an alphabetical order. It’s a good way to show objectivity and equality among countries, but this order seems to be less informative to me. How about putting the names in a geological order? For instance, the left endpoint begins with the country in the most northern part of the Arabian region, while the right ends with the most southern one. If so, numbers of bubbles on the road could show the intense of conflicts in different regions.

In general, the visualization is easy to understand and operate. The topic is explicit and extensive. The design elements are clear-cut and harmonious.  I like it very much.


About Yizhu Wang

A second-year graduate student in Missouri School of Journalism. She studies print/digital journalism with a focus on business reporting. She is interested in utilizing multimedia and technology to strengthen the presentation of news stories. Yizhu is originally from Shanghai, China.

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