Trump has an extraordinary number of business ties. But just how complex is his network–and how big are the potential conflicts of interest? In a word: Yuuuge!
Designer Kim Albrecht created two visualizations that map Trump’s network from a macro and micro perspective. They’re based on data collected from BuzzFeed‘s TrumpWorld project, a crowdsourced data set of all of the people and businesses to which Trump has connections.
The first visualization is an overwhelming web of names, with Trump’s in the middle. The names of people within the network are bolded, and their names are sized according to the number of business connections they have–illustrating not just Trump’s connections, but the spheres of influence of those in his circle. Aside from Trump, the names that are the largest are those of Betsy DeVos, nominee for secretary of education, and Wilbur Ross, nominee for secretary of commerce. Clicking a name reveals the person’s interests. Ross, for instance, has ties to more than 125 organizations, ranging from the New Museum to the world’s largest steel maker–a troubling array of potential conflicts for someone tasked with growing the American economy.
The second graphic is an interactive that looks at the network from each individual or company’s perspective, enabling you to drill down into particular relationships. It reveals that Ross has business connections to Russia, India, Japan, Korea, Ireland, and Cyprus–and that’s just at a glance.
Albrecht took a break from his PhD work in media studies and philosophy and his day job at the Network Science Institute to create the visualization. “For me, working in research, we always try to disconnect from the day-to-day,” Albrecht says. “We observe systems but not in this political or journalistic way. For me, it’s something very interesting, seeing how visualization can help when dealing with these things that are really relevant right now.”
While Trump’s vast network has journalists–and lawyers–delving into his many connections, Albrecht says that this data set is nothing compared to what he’s used to dealing with at the Network Science Institute, where he’s the sole designer working to visualize the work of about 30 physicists. Trump’s network data only takes up 100 kilobytes, he says; the complex systems he’s used to handling have gigabytes of data.
A small consolation–Trump’s web of connections has nothing on science.