Visualizations: Aid and Internet

As we are often reminded in digital humanities conferences, the visualization of data is often mistaken for the argument and methodology of the project. That doesn’t mean that visualizations can’t be any less compelling. In fact, they function first and foremost as an invitation to audiences to “step into” the argument, so to speak.

Two recent visualizations are worth studying, both on Vox. First, the distribution of U.S. foreign aid, which visually suggests what I think most people already know–humanitarian principles have little to do with it. The second is an article and maps of the way the internet actually relies on undersea cables, which if you’ve never thought about it before makes sense. It’s also something that has been going on since the 1850s. And the cleavages in distribution of internet cables corresponds closely to the developed, developing, and undeveloped world.