Wednesday, May 5, 2010

BBC Election Web Map and Gadget

UK Votes, Seats through time: I like this web gadget from the BBC, it combines a timeline, a pie chart (votes), a graph (seats in parliament) and video clips in a clever way so you can see how voting in UK elections has gone in the past. No map but I think they were right to leave it off in this case as it would have made the whole thing too complex. It shows nicely how our first past the post system has warped a minority vote into majority governments over the years. If you click the timeline from the left to the present day you can see how the liberal vote (including SDP/liberal alliance which then became liberal democrats) has grown over the years to today.

Change Blindness in Maps: I'm less impressed by BBC this map, its major problem is a lack of understanding about change blindness. Try and spot the changes in the images in this video

Change blindness demo from Breakfast Seminar Series on Vimeo.

you can see that our visual system is incredibly good at spotting small changes* in an image but that it doesn't work if a blank 'flicker' screen is inserted between changes. If you go to the BBC map and select different constituencies the map blanks the screen and flies you out and back in again. Not only is the flight back in unnecessary, the introduction of a blank screen hampers our visual memory to track changes.

*Interestingly, its an evolutionary adaption, spotting a small leaf twitching was the difference between being eaten by a lion trying to ambush you or getting away alive to our ancestors in Africa. Its also the reason you can find a flashing cursor on screen.

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