Having concluded that there’s no value to a procedurally adjusted causal map, I have set to work building a static map that will simply be copied onto the screen, along with active regions for each of the factors. However, even a static map imposes serious problems. Please to observe the current version at the bottom of this essay. You will first observe that it is quite large. I have gone to great lengths to minimize the size, but this seems to be the smallest I can get without making the connections unreadably dense. I’m still working on that issue, but I doubt that I can achieve much improvement there.
The killer problem here arises from the long, long causal links. For example, can you determine the source of the blue arrow connecting to the Gasoline Tax Income (teal, near top center) factor? It’s so long that you have to scroll down to find it. OK, I could straighten that up a bit, but the core problem is the distance traversed.
Here’s another example. Locate the Scientific Progress factor: it’s magenta, left of center, about 1/4 of the way down from the top. Track the magenta link going downward from it. After crossing mountains, deserts, and plains, it eventually reaches Agricultural Productivity, which then links to Food Production. The connection is so long that it’s difficult to follow. And why do I put Agricultural Productivity in that location? It could be anywhere between Scientific Progress and Food Production. I thought that this was the best location, and I challenge you to find a better arrangement. There might be a better arrangement, but I’ve re-arranged these things many times and I can’t find a better one.
And how about that Educational Level reaching all the way down to Population? It runs underneath existing factors; is that better than crowding lines between the factors? What about the “underpasses” where some lines cross? Does that help or hinder the eye?
I’m still working on it; I see a number of possible improvements. Still, I’m not enthusiastic about this diagram; it’s just not good enough.