Internet use has exploded in the past few decades in practically every country around the world. Internet use can sometimes be used as a metric for measuring a country’s economic, social, and/or technological advancement. Higher internet use means greater social connectivity, allows for the expansion of commercial markets, and often leads to new technologies. In this visualization, my aim to show the rate at which every country in the world’s internet use has changed since the year 2000, and to highlight the countries that currently have the highest percentage of their population using the internet.
Presenting this data in a visual format proved to be quite challenging. The first challenge was deciding which type of visualization to use. Since my goal was to show changes over time, I ultimately decided that a line chart was the best way to accomplish this. However, a line chart with 100+ lines looked cluttered and confusing, so I looked for other visualization samples that dealt with a similar problem.
I came across this visualization, showing homicide rates by country over the past 3 decades. As seen below, the creator of this visualization used a filter in the right-hand margin that allowed the user to see one country at a time, removing the clutter of other countries. I thought this was a great solution to the challenge I was facing, so I implemented a similar function on my visualization.
Rather than implementing a filter into my visualization, I decided to use a feature called a highlighter. Where filters completely remove all other data on the chart except for the data that’s been selected, a highlighter simply “dims” all of the data on the chart (pictured below). I thought this created a more visually appealing chart than the filter, but still accomplished the same goal.
The data from my project came from the United Nations database. The data was in a normalized format, so I didn’t have to use any data cleaning software before I began the process of creating the visualization. The visualization was created using Tableau Public.
I began creating my visualization by first downloading the dataset in a CSV format (pictured below). Fortunately, the dataset was already normalized, meaning that each column represented a variable, and each row represented an instance. This was helpful because I did not have to spend time re-structuring the data, and could instead begin the visualization process right away.
I connected my dataset to Tableau Public and started designing a visualization that would most effectively communicate my conclusions from the dataset. I decided to use a line chart, as it was the best way to show changes in a variable over time. Once the chart was generated, I used a gradient color scheme for the lines, where the color becomes darker as internet use increases. I felt that the color scheme further emphasized my conclusion – that internet use has generally been increasing in every country around the world over time – and allowed the user to come to the same conclusion at a glance.
Once the line chart was completed, I wanted to experiment with creating a dashboard in Tableau. Dashboards allow for multiple visualizations to be displayed on one page, and allow for them to be connected in some ways. I thought that a map would be a great compliment to the line chart, so I created one using the same dataset. To do this, I just used the variables “country” and “value” (indicating internet use”), and the result was a map of the world showing internet in each country. I decided to use the same color gradient scheme as my line chart for consistency, so that the darker colored countries indicated higher internet use.
I was able to connect the two visualizations using the highlighter function. In other words, when the user highlights a country in the line chart, the same country is highlighted on the map. Conversely, when a user clicks a country on the map, the data from that same country is then highlighted on the line chart. I felt that this was a good way to add another layer of information to the visualization – allowing users to connect the data from a selected country to its physical location on a map. A picture of my dashboard can be seen below, and the entire interactive visualization can be viewed here.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the outcome of the project. I believe that the two visualizations on the dashboard allow the user to easily see the trends in the data, and to isolate exactly which country they might be interested in. In the future, it would be interesting to do a similar project using a dataset with more variables. Since this dataset only had variables for country, year, and internet use, there weren’t many options for visualizations outside of what I created. Having more variables would allow me to create more graphs/charts showing different variables and perhaps connect them in more interesting ways.