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Preliminary Visualization: Networks and Stories in Diaspora

Social network analysis (SNA), as well as its visualization, is a powerful tool for data storytelling. When visualizing the network, we also provide a lens through which you could read the life story of the St. Louise passengers.

What is SNA?

Very briefly, I want to recap this methodology.  A social network comprises of two or more actors and the connection among them. The visualization of a network is called “sociogram.” In a sociogram, each node is an actor, and the link is the relationship/connection as defined by the researcher. Based on the types of actor, a social network can be unimodal or bimodal. For example, when we visualize the friendship network of iSchool students, the sociogram is unimodal because all the actors are students. While it is a bimodal structure for the network of iSchool students and their country of origin, the node can represent either student or the country.

Based on the types of actor, a social network can be unimodal or bimodal. For example, when we visualize the friendship network of iSchool students, the sociogram is unimodal because all the actors are students. While it is a bimodal structure for the network of iSchool students and their country of origin, the node can represent either student or the country.When visualizing the bimodal network, we distinguish different types of actors by shape. Also, each actor could have various attributes, such as gender, age or other contextual property, and we might use different color or size to convey the certain characteristics of our interest.

Social Network Visualization of St. Louis Voyage
As a conceptual step, we first identify that the network will be bimodal, where the nodes will represent both passengers and the location of the event(s). We use the label shape for location, and the circle for travelers. To capture the St. Louis Voyage and the life story of passengers, we hope to visualize the network in two ways.  Essentially, you would discover two types of story narrative.

  1. The network of People in Specific Event: For a particular type of event, who and where?
  2. The network of People in Specific Country: In which country, who went through what?

It’s better to demonstrate than simply tell. The sociogram below shows the Network of People in Internment, and specifically – in Germany during 1939 and 1946.

The circle shaped nodes represent passengers in the St. Louis Voyage. Empty circles are those who perished during the second world war, while the solid circles are those who survived. Pink and blue are used for differentiating the gender.

The label shared nodes are the camps in Germany where the passengers were kept imprisoned.

You might notice there are some passenger nodes that are linked to more than one camp. This indicates the passenger had been transferred from one camp to another.

  • Event Type: Internment screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-11-03-18-pm
  • Country: Germany
  • Time Span: 1939 – 1946

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When it comes to France, we see a rather dramatic change of internment before and after Nazi invasion in 1939.2

Before Nazi invasion, only a few passengers are imprisoned. And most of them are male.

 

 

 

However, France is no longer a haven after Nazi invasion – the number of people imprisoned increase dramatically, as shown below.

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Next Steps

Moving forward, we will explore data visualization in various ways.  Firstly, we will include actual map in the social network graphs, where the node of the camp will be configured to its real geo-location.

Also, we hope to visualize other types of events, such as the departure and disembarkation per the voyage. Data analytics will also be included in the visualization, as we can show different survival rates by country, and by how many times an internee has been transferred.

Further,we hope to design an interactive tool that allows the viewer to explore the story through the network visualization and map. The element of time – when the event happens – matters too! We would like to create a timeline to show the life story of a particular group of people among the passengers – for example, some family had been separated during the harsh journey.

Imagine that you can situate yourself in the network and story of the diaspora.

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