UseableArt : Information + Design

Diagramming the Bin Laden Raid [information design]

Yes, it’s old news: twenty-five members of SEAL Team Six raided Osama’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Yes, they found him, and yes they killed him Rather than bringing him in alive to serve as a martyr in some closet in Guantanamo Bay. The hawks are done crowing about it, the Democrats have finished a well-deserved victory lap, and the Republicans are still trying to find something Obama did wrong and prove that anyone not among their ranks is soft on terror.

Enough already. Although there is no rest for our men and women on the front lines and in the shadows out in the field, at least the rest of us, particularly New Yorkers, can breathe a welcome sigh of relief. For a guy who wasn’t even good PR for his own people, and even though thousands are waiting in the wings to take his place, the world is a better place without him.

The question burning in everyone’s minds was, and still is: how did the SEALs do it? There is an answer waiting here that will probably never see the light of day. Apparently, even when President Obama went to visit the SEALs responsible for carrying out the operation, the man who dropped the hammer on Bin Laden himself was never even pointed out to his Commander in Chief. But we do have some answers. And, not surprisingly, the best of them come not from a US news source, but from the writers, editors, and illustrators at the BBC.

The BBC’s Web sit has produced a remarkable series of information graphics detailing as much of the raid as anyone has been able to find out thus far. Re-drawing imagery sourced from the Pentagon itself, the illustration of the compound is rendered in simple shades of white and gray, leaving plenty of room for text and highlight color. Clicking on a portion of the map takes you to additional pertinent information (a photograph of the burning Blackhawk the SEALs had to leave behind, etc.), and it is in general a high-quality piece of information design that allows you to digest the information at hand quickly, easily, and leaves you wanting more.

Information technology types and set decorators take note as well: not only was the operation a masterpiece of globally technologies and communications, apparently the SEALs tasked for the job trained on two full-size replicas of the compound, one on each coast.

As usual, the print art department can be relied on to push the boundaries of infodesign and use it as it was intended: to tell a story with elegance and style and without distraction or frills. Enjoy 😉

Andrew Wallerstein’s Personal Site

This entry was published on June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm and is filed under bbc, illustration, infographics, information design, osama, terrorism. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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