Thursday, June 14, 2007

NY Times charts based on DoD report

Here's the New York Times graphic that accompanied their story this morning on the DoD report to Congress.

Their stacked bar chart is similar to the unstacked bar chart from the Washington post.

Geographic charts are popular these days but I find the pair of charts in this example difficult to interpret. There are some trends going on with respect to readiness to assume security responsibility, but one has to spend quite a bit of time to figure out what they are from these maps. The eye has to dart back and forth between the two maps to make a before and after comparison. If I am reading these correctly, it looks like some serious backsliding has occurred since Nov 2006. And of course, having only a pair of data points for each trend makes any interpretations or extrapolations risky.

The sectarian incident chart at the top right is useful. I would prefer to see a longer time frame and data that is more up to the minute (e.g. at least through the end of May 2007).

The first chart showing the daily casualties also falls short in only reporting data up through May 4th, 2007. While real time reporting is rarely needed in this kind of situation, important factors such as casualties must be reported in near real time for them to be truly useful.

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