Rather I wanted to highlight a social network diagram in the Houston Chronicle today attributed to Alberto Cuadra. The diagram (low res photo at left) diagrams "The Abramoff connection" and uses a combination of visual elements.
The full version of the Abramoff-Delay Social Network Diagram in PDF format is on the Chronicle Site.
For main characters like Mr. Abramoff he gets a large photo in the sun. Clearly the Jack Abramoff image is the dominant visual element. The next largest element up and to the right from Jack is Tom Delay. But definitely a smaller picture than Jack the center of the diagram.
All other players are separated by dotted lines and every element has a gear, like machinery, background on it. There is no attempt to indicate interaction with the gears, I guess just to indicate they are part of the political machinery.
Individuals where he did not have a photo, or chose not to use one perhaps to reduce their apparent significance are indicated by a standing robot-looking man. Interestingly, *groups* of individuals are also represented by this same graphic such as "other congress members". My interpretation of this is simply that their role as a group was on par with the role of that other individual as an individual.
The money, which is what they teach you to follow in most crime novels, is apparently mostly from Indian tribes running casinos. Those tribes, despite their dominant role, are indicated in the diagram by three buildings of varying sizes similar to a SIMS building icon. The same building icon, of the same size unlike the varying photo sizes, is used to reference other lobbying companies and the strategy group including public relations firms Grassroots Interactive and Capital Campaign Strategies.
The dotted lines connecting the elements are confusing, but that is a known challenge with social network diagrams and I think the author does a good job except for the flamboyant boat connection. I’ll chalk that last one up to social commentary. By the artist of course.
Alberto – all I have to say is "more cowbell". Job well done.