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8/19/2005
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Animated Map Of Coalition Deaths Helps Site Visitors Visualize Casualties Of War

Sadly, for many Americans, each death of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is nothing more than a statistic buried on the inside page of the daily newspaper. But an animated map of Iraq helps visitors to a Web site visualize the mounting toll, a small but important reminder of the reality of a war half a world away. The site is further evidence on how the Web puts an individual on the same level as major news organizations in reaching the publ

Sadly, for many Americans, each death of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is nothing more than a statistic buried on the inside page of the daily newspaper. But an animated map of Iraq helps visitors to a Web site visualize the mounting toll, a small but important reminder of the reality of a war half a world away. The site is further evidence on how the Web puts an individual on the same level as major news organizations in reaching the public with important news.Graphic designer Tim Klimowicz created the map as a student project at New York's School of Visual Arts. The animation runs 10 frames a second, a frame for each day. A single black dot shows the location of a coalition military facility. Each dot starts as a white flash, and a larger red dot fades to black over the spam of 30 frames/days. A soft tick sound can be heard for each death. The volume increases with the relative number of fatalities that occurred simultaneously each day. More deaths in a smaller area produce visually deeper reds; and the sounds are more pronounced. Information about coalition deaths comes from the site www.icasualties.org; geographic information is referenced from GlobalSecurity.org.

Originally, Klimowicz intended to display every war-related death, but he realized cataloging Iraqi military and civilian deaths would be difficult because of the sheer numbers, according to his Web site.

Klimowicz set out to create a map that was objective and apolitical. But, as he worked on the project, he began questioning the concept of objectivity. He wrote on his Web site: "How objective can it really be when something as profound as a human death--which, in itself can have infinite interpretations--is represented with little more than a tiny black dot on a computer monitor?"

Still, Klimowicz pledges to update the map as long as the war continues.

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