The Visible Mosaic — A Data Story

All things are connected. Like a web we do not see. Every drop of water, every inch of soil, every person, is a strand in the web of life. In the stirring speech attributed to Chief Seattle, we read:

Maryam Khezrzadeh
Dec 22, 2017 · 10 min read

Whatever befalls the Earth , befalls the sons of the
Earth. […] Whatever he does to the web, he does to
Himself.

*Originally published by BC Council for International Cooperation.


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UN Wheel of Global Goals

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations had an assembly to conclude a series of conversations about the future of the world, and how we want the world look like by 2030.

Theory of Change

There are volumes written on how social change happens. Without trying to dive into the topic in any depth, let us only mention that what is present in most stories of lasting improvement and change, is the tale of a core group of people discovering and building their own power to act. Large scale transformation then occurs when enough small groups shift in harmony toward the larger change.

The Invisible Mosaic

In 2015, and after the launch of the SDGs, the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation set out to learn how organizations in BC were reacting to the new goals, and to gain understanding of who was already implementing and advancing them. BCCIC is a network of international development and civil society organizations that has been engaged in sustainable development and social justice issues for over a quarter century. They knew the subject matter global goals dealt with was nothing new and that groups across Canada have been working on these issues for decades.

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Network of online connections between more than 1800 NGOs in British Columbia. The node in the middle is BCCIC which links to these organizations through the Movement Map.
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Goal #17 — Partnerships for the Goals
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Ten online communities can be detected in the Invisible Mosaic and most communities cluster around a set of goals.
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The Most Linked-to Organziations

Let’s go back to the initial social network which did not include the goals. The main connected part of the social network, depicted below, includes 1226 organizations which are connected through 5600 online links. The size of the nodes reflect the number of links an organization’s website receives from other organizations in the network. The top 10 most linked-to organizations are identified and links are removed for clarity:

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Top 10 most linked-to organizations in the invisible mosaic.

Bridges

Every community consists of two types of organizations. There are organizations that are well embedded within their communities. And there are organizations that live not at the centre but on the peripheries, acting as bridges between communities.

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Top bridge organizations in the invisible mosaic.

Core Groups

Links on the web are reputational indicators. It is very common for websites to link to many other websites but it is relatively rare for them to get a link back in return! A mutual linking between two organizations might suggest that the two organizations are somehow engaged. That the people involved in these groups might in fact know each other and collaborate in the real world, or have other reasons to reciprocate the online link. Either way, a mutual link is more informative than a one-directional link.

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Mutual links within and across online communities of NGOs in British Columbia
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Core Groups of mutually connected civil society organizations in British Columbia

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