Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Visualized: Tracking Syria's defections

If you've been following the events in Syria, here is an interesting Al Jazeera visualization of high-ranking defectors in the country that clusters by affiliation and gives some bio information.



By looking at the military group it would seem as if a significant portion of military leadership has defected, but I wonder if the visualization might be a bit misleading: Does it really include all military leadership, or all people above a certain rank?  
For example, it includes defectors who received a lot of press, like Muhammed Ahmed Faris who was the first Syrian in space, but his bio doesn't mention that he currently had any significant active role in the army. If the list doesn't include all people from his rank and up, the visualization might be skewed in favor of the defectors...  Contrast this with the parliament or cabinet groups, which are clearly defined.

Other than that, I wish the visualization included more clustering dimensions as social links between the people. Like ethnic group, religion, hometown (overlaid with towns where clashes happened), more family relationships, friendships, etc. That data would allow us to see if there are additional trends that are happening.