An ongoing conversation about techniques and visualization practice
Ties within and between the 6 regularly equivalent positions in the trade of agricultural products
Errata – Diagrams are from Nordlund’s PhD dissertation, Social Ecography; International trade, network analysis, and an Emmanuelian conceptualization of ecological unequal exchange, http://www.lu.se/o.o.i.s?id=12683&postid=1606296 (2010).
PEER REVIEW COMMENT No. 1 – The visualization above depicts the international flows of agricultural and forestry products. The vast web of trade is simplified by placing countries in regular equivalent roles and mapping the relations across the roles. It is clear from the second graph that the forestry trade network exhibits a dual core structure, where two sets of regularly equivalent countries are at the core of the network. The regular equivalence graph nicely simplifies a very complicated network. The image itself is difficult to use in stand-alone form, since too much is assumed of the viewer. It is not clear, for example, what the “criteria fulfillment” actually is and why it is important, so some simple explanatory work there might be helpful.
The visualization is based on a sociomatrix containing the hectare-equivalents (aka “ecological footprints”) for a wide selection of primary agricultural commodities – i.e. no forestry products in this one. I think I previously also submitted a visualization of forestry product trade flows, but that particular visualization (and forestry products overall) were later omitted from my PhD. Regarding criteria fulfillment: this reflects to what degree the definition of a regular tie is fulfilled, using a heuristic as defined in my article in Social Networks journal of 2007.
PEER REVIEW COMMENT No. 2 – This visualization is a depiction of the role structure of an international trade network. While this image provides an excellent concentration of a large amount of information, it is lacking a clear interpretation. As a model of the world system, it would help if there were a simple way to compare the two contents of trade represented in the two figures. I find myself comparing the country codes of the two cores, to see who is left out in each.
Although notions such as core and periphery are useful for describing these (and similar) visualizations, such labels can only be used in a taxonomic sense here, I think, as these visualizations only cover specific commodity categories among several, all of which only covers one economic facet of the world-economy, which in turn is only a part of the contemporary world-system structure. The only interpretation I think can be drawn from these figures are concerned with these particular commodities per se – they might reflect or overlap the more general, over-arching structure but, as always within social network analysis, interpretational modesty is adviced.
PEER REVIEW COMMENT No. 3 – This submission provides a great structural view of the data, without obscuring the identities of individual nodes. I wonder if the node identities can be arrayed to provide additional information, without detracting from the structural clarity provided in an REGE-based diagram.
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