One of the primary shortcomings of the original protest map I posted was that it only captured a static picture of protest activity over a 6 month span. While this was interesting in its own right, many people, including myself, were interested in how protest behavior changes over time. Given this, I decided to explore creating an animated version of the original protest map.
As I’ve mentioned before, the GDELT data covers
from 1979 until present day, with continuous daily updates. I’m making use of
a subset that runs through June of 2013. The same caveats of the data
that I noted in the
about the protest map still apply. When dealing with the time-series of data,
however, one additional, and very important, point also applies. The number
of events recorded in GDELT grows exponentially over time, as noted in the
introducing the dataset. This means that over time there appears to be a
steady increase in events, but this should not be mistaken as a rise in the
actual amount of behavior
X (protest behavior in this case). Instead, due
to changes in reporting and the digital recording of news stories, it is
simply the case that there are more events of every type over time. In some
preliminary work that is not yet publicly released, protest behavior seems to
remain relatively constant over time as a percentage of the total number
of events. This means that while there was an explosion of protest activity
in the Middle East, and elsewhere, during the past few years, identifying
visible patterns is a tricky endeavor due to the nature of the underlying data.
Finally, the data used to create the map can be viewed here. In order to reduce the data to a manageable size, only locations where 10 or more events occurred within a specific month are included. 10 events is an admittedly arbitrary cutoff, but given that the highest number of events for one location in a given month is 3,746 (Cairo in February of 2011) I feel that it is reasonable.
With these notes out of the way, the map can be viewed at johnbeieler.org/protest_mapping. The color of each point is scaled by the number of events, with darker circles indicating more events.