Visualizing Players … as books?

I had some time this morning as I waited to leave for work, so I put together a quick test of StackView, a tool developed at Harvard to allow for easier browsing of library collections. I’m still working out some kinks, but this may end up replacing the current card-based display for players on this site:

Soccer players visualized as books
Soccer players visualized as books

In this view, each player is shown as a book on an endless vertical pile. Player names, positions, and birth years are written on the binding (the birth year is a bit contrived, I admit – seasons may work better).

The value of this display, however, comes in the size and color of the book. Teams and leagues all over the world list their players in tabular format – but such a display does little to clearly distinguish between players. Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Ivan Becerra are just two lines among many.

Enter StackView. This jQuery-based library determines the size and color of a binding based on three numeric parameters:

  • Book thickness is determined by the number of minutes played in a career – “the book” on veteran players is longer than for fringe players.
  • Binder color reflects the impact that a player has on the team. Currently, the color is calculated from four source stats: goals, assists, yellow cards and red cards (“impact” is not always a good thing here). This is an obvious area for improvement, but I like being able to use color to indicate qualitative contributions beyond just playing time (who would argue that Stern John deserves emphasis in history beyond his mere two years of playing time?)
  • Binder height is the weakest of these three parameters, deriving for now from a player’s birth year (older players have taller books). This is somewhat problematic – what age do you use for Mike Clark or Duncan Oughton? I’ll keep tweaking this.

Stay tuned – if I can work out some of the rough edges here, I think this has a lot more potential than the card-based display this site uses now.

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