Drone strikes are things that the average U.S. resident is well removed from. For most of us, drone strikes are these things that we know about and might joke about, but have never experienced and probably never will. On the other hand, people in the areas affected by U.S. drone strikes likely have a different view. There’s a strong paranoia that can develop from knowing that an entity is actively bombing targets in your area and has historically not cared too much about the collateral damage. I wanted a visualization that combined these two positions. I use the positional audio to put the viewer halfway into the shoes of those in the area of these strikes who might be frequently hearing word of these explosions. I then use the text-based UI to tie it to the experience of the average American, who might not normally look up news about drones, but would definitely be familiar with the buzzwords the media uses to talk about them.
The non-map visualization does very little to inform about the actual location of the drone strikes. To some degree it assumes that the user already knows the general location, since some of the headlines contain the names of locations. The audio doesn’t help much either, since it has no way to express things like the borders of countries or the scale of the world. These are the things the globe visualization is able to demonstrate. It shows the three clusters of heavy drone activity, and by rotating, just how unaffected the rest of the world is.
On the other hand, the globe based visualization is entirely unable to show the time aspect of the strikes. The audio of the non-map visualization becomes increasingly more intense as the time approaches the current year. The text display also shows the headlines, which the map does not capture. The insight from the non-map, I hope, is more about the people affected and not affected than the drone strikes themselves.
Originally, I didn’t realize that the drone strikes had started as early as 2002. While working on the time scaling for the audio playback, I thought I had a bug when the first explosion happened and then I needed to wait for a good while more than I expected before the next one. I then saw that one of the entries was dated as 2002 instead of the 2004 I expected. Unfortunately, I later removed the display of the date, so a user might no longer get the same discovery.