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Assignment 3 - Using Tableau to Visualize Data


United Nations Data on the Trade of Goods of different countries in US$

link: http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/datasets/e254f0f21ca611dfa627000255111976/versions/1

The data I chose to visualize was the Trade of Goods for different countries over the last 15 years. There were a large variety of countries listed, each with their imports and export totals for years in the range 1994 - 2008. The question I had was, “How has the landscape of the global economy shifted over the past 15 years?”

I imported the data into Tableau to begin to make sense of it. It was a bit difficult to work with as there was so much data. Most of the visualizations I made didn’t give much insight into the data.

Then I decided to restrict my analysis to the G20 (the collection of the top 20 industrialized nations/economies) over the span 2000-2008. Please see the first 2 figures. Since the G20 comprises 85% of the worldwide GDP, this felt like a reasonable restriction. I restricted the analysis to the years 2000-2008 since many countries did not have information listed beforehand.

In this targeted analysis, I was able to see interesting relationships. The most notable was the relationship between the import and export trends of the United States and China. This is especially interesting because the two countries have been in the news recently about how their balance of power has shifted over the past few years. My question shifted to, “How has the Import and Export relationships of the US and China shifted from 2000-2008.

Overall, I liked Tableau as it was fairly easy to learn and I could really see the power in being able to fluidly interact with the data to find relationships. However at the same time, I was definitely banging my head against the wall with some of its limitations.

Since it was the same data filtered in two different ways, I wasn’t able to get Tableau to present this data on the same plot. Ideally, it would have been very interesting to have a bar chart where China’s imports for a given year were plotted right next to the US’s imports for that year. The comparisons would have been much easier to make.

Since I couldn’t do this, the next best thing to do was to plot the two side by side. Please see the last figures. And in doing so, we see how the US’s imports have increased and how its exports have decreased relative to China over this last decade. This helps us better understand why the power relationship has shifted so significantly between the two countries.

Caption: The import and export trends of China and the US from 2000-2008. We see that the exports of the United States were much larger than that of China in 2000 and that in 2008 this relationship had significantly shifted -- China’s had a greater volume of exports compared to the US. While on the import side, the US’s imports has remained steadily more than China.

Exports of the G20 in US$ between 2000-2008: Image:Exports.jpg

Imports of the G20 in US$ between 2000-2008: Image:imports.jpg

Final Visualization: Image:importsExports.jpg

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