Public Opinion and the Occupy Wall Street Movement : http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/11/09/us/ows-grid.html
This data visualization type is very interesting as it permits to have a better understanding of people opinions reading their online commentary on the NYTimes website.
This visualization presents more than 2 levels of informations. The first one, and the most perceptible is the overall organisation, which looks like a 2Dimensions graph. It is organised as two axis used as vocabulary ladders going from a lower to a higher value. Upon each axis is a question corresponding to the ladder. The second level of information is the dots colour which correspond to another ladder, this one being colour-represented by a shading off from orange to green . This ladder is associated with 5 questions concerning country's (US) problems' sources. Other information levels appears as you interact with the interface. For example by clicking on one intersection of the two question-axis, you can access to all the comments gathered in the category.
Operational distance : Colours used for the ladders are wise chosen, as it is a palette of pastel colours really pleasant for online reading as it is not aggressive to the eye. Moreover, the ladder used from orange to green is classic in this type of visualization and allow the viewer to easily access to the overall opinion. One of the problem remaining is the lack of explanation about background colours of each square where groups of dots are gathered. This colour change each time you change the question using the menu on the upper side. However it is more likely to be a colour calculated to symbolise the mean opinion of each group than just to better visualize each dot. We do not have access to the ladder signification.
This aspect of the visualization is really well handled. As it is explain in the short text presenting it, the visualisation allow NYTimes' website users to give their opinion. Each dot correspond to one user's comment. You can view it simply by passing the mouse over a dot as image [http://imagesup.org/images11/1380896856-comment.png ] shows. It reveals a sum up of comment's author opinion and the comment. Moreover, the click action on a square reveals at the bottom of the page all the comments available in this square. The overall organisation as two-axis allows viewer to easily access to comments regarding the opinion authors. This type of browsing through comment is never accessible on most sites where commenting is possible. It is a “new” and interesting way organise opinion.
Semantic distance: As the information is divided into several part the semantic distance is really low. Indeed, as the visualization is based on answers from users, the questions have to be simple. However, it permits to show two basic and important aspects of the visualized conflict, which are : goals & methods. The vocabulary-ladders on those two allows fast and clear understanding. Moreover, each square placement meaning is translated to words which gives a precise idea of what NYTimes users think.
Conclusion: This visualisation is really completing its goal which is, according to me, to gather similar comments and allows a clearer understanding of their author's opinions. It reveals two main groups which are strongly opposed and strongly agreeing people, but also shows that it exists many other levels of considering the occupy wall street movement.