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Knowledge Is Power. Beauty Is Truth.
August 17, 2009 5:49 AM   Subscribe

See What You Think. Information Is Beautiful.
posted by SinisterPurpose (33 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think therefore I am ergo I see what you did there.

Also, I don't tweet but that first graph is really grabbing some low-hanging stereotypes. If not tweeting in a week is "lazy" then why are people who tweet more often "loud-mouths"? Why is 5% with more than 100 followers "only"? What's the right number to have? And why is it that a good tweet is "RT-worthy" but, "spam" "babble" and "inane" (which I would think parroting back of tweets would fall under) are bad? And btw, what's the operational definition of those?

Nice color choices on the graphs, though.
posted by DU at 5:56 AM on August 17, 2009


Nice! Liked the movie monsters and music sales by format ones in particular.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:57 AM on August 17, 2009


I enjoyed the Billion Dollar Gram. Easily the best explanation of "just how much money is that!?!" I have seen.
posted by molecicco at 5:59 AM on August 17, 2009


> Why is 5% with more than 100 followers "only"? What's the right number to have?

I think it's not "5% have only 100 followers", but "only 5% have 100 or more followers".
posted by bjrn at 6:03 AM on August 17, 2009


I love this!

Needs 'infoporn' tag, though.
posted by There's No I In Meme at 6:08 AM on August 17, 2009


Either way, it's judgemental-type language where none should be. How many tweetsters *should* have more than 100 followers? Maybe 5% is way larger than one would expect. (In fact, I would argue that this could well be the case. Imagine if 5% of the human race were celebrities, where "celebrity" meant "more than 1,000,000 fans.)
posted by DU at 6:08 AM on August 17, 2009


That billion dollar gram makes me unbelievably sad. So much money spent on such idiotic undertakings. What's it all worth, really?
posted by dazed_one at 6:11 AM on August 17, 2009


I dunno, most of them are a bit mystifying. The music one is so tall I have to scroll to see it all, and I'm not sure what the silhouettes add to the caffeine/calorie one - the dark ones are unnecessary and the light ones difficult to interpret (is that guy boxing?)
posted by Ritchie at 6:17 AM on August 17, 2009


Could use some improved clarity here and there but I like it. Thanks, Sinister!
posted by pyrex at 6:21 AM on August 17, 2009


Very nice link.
posted by localhuman at 6:34 AM on August 17, 2009


Could use some improved clarity here and there ...
posted by pyrex


How about the heat-resistance?

And I more-or-less agree, despite my negative comments. Recent political events, coupled with a Monday morning, are not sitting well with me.
posted by DU at 6:37 AM on August 17, 2009


50 Great Examples of Infographics from Francesco Mugnai.
posted by netbros at 6:59 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, this guy is making clean, clear, wonderful visualisations. On this other hand, the thing he illustrates most clearly is the difference between information and knowledge. His analysis of nuclear weapons stuff is just absolute nonsense.
posted by Dreadnought at 7:03 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


See what the designer thinks, information is aesthetically pleasing?

Some of these are a little too coercive to my eyes. However, they've done a good job of aggregating some of the best from around the web. Thanks for the post.
posted by anthill at 7:04 AM on August 17, 2009


> Either way, it's judgemental-type language where none should be.

Why not? The graph is inherently judgemental. Why focus on those who have more than 100 followers? Why not 90, or 74, or 13?! The selection of what to show is part of the interpretation process, I can't really say that the word "only" is shocking in any way, and it doesn't say that there should be more or less people with that many followers. My reading was that it was meant to convey the idea that there are less people with that many followers than the maker of the graph expected (I would have expected less).
posted by bjrn at 7:35 AM on August 17, 2009


Obligatory (?) Edward Tufte link.
I don;t love everything about Tufte but he has interesting stuff to say o this topic.
Great find, SinisterPurpose. I love this sort of stuff!
posted by pointystick at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2009


I liked it as I like all infoporn in generally, which is high praise for a post, IMHO. Sure, maybe the nuclear weapons stuff was just nonsense, but it was at least an interesting perspective on these weapons done in an infographic.
posted by Askiba at 8:05 AM on August 17, 2009


Great stuff, thanks.

The music one is so tall I have to scroll to see it all

It's from the NYT, he says, and critiques it a bit. And the Movie Monster one is from here originally. He makes some, but just collects cool others, too.
posted by mediareport at 8:16 AM on August 17, 2009


The first graphic in this post is pretty lame. I think it's misleading to only provide the number of fatal airline crashes without weighting that against the total number of flights. I look at the picture and say, of course that US has the most crashes, as is probably has the most active airline industry. The number of accident casualties per passenger flight would be a more useful metric. (The "Bad Month" chart fails the same way, it just suggests to me that there are more flights, thus more accidents, in the summer and for holidays.)

I am also suspicious of his data. The reporting and surveillance will be different in every country so it might not be fair to compare, say, France with Somalia. Besides that issue, the chart's numbers do not match their source's data. For example the US is said to have 1079 fatal accidents by his cited source while the chart lists 2613 in parenthesis. The waters are muddied because the top of the chart says "fatal accidents" while the bottom only says "accidents."

But, whatever. It's a pretty useless chart. That is won some award makes me sad.
posted by peeedro at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2009


Despite its design flaws, the NYT graph paints a pretty freaking clear picture, I think. I'm sure someone could (hence, likely will) argue that I'm wrong.

Cool site...thanks!
posted by nosila at 8:33 AM on August 17, 2009


this is great

by this presentation, some clarity in reading/interpreting the data has been sacrificed,
but that relaxation allows for the representations themselves to carry a message

eg, mountains out of molehills
posted by sloe at 8:48 AM on August 17, 2009


Despite its design flaws, the NYT graph paints a pretty freaking clear picture, I think. I'm sure someone could (hence, likely will) argue that I'm wrong.

Sure. LPs peaked in 1978, shared the stage with cassette albums for several years, cassettes peaked in 1988, then shared the stage with CDs, then CDs peaked in 1999, and now they're dropping off but there's no physical format to replace them. But also: CD sales at their peak were huge compared with the LP and cassette peaks, partly because a lot of people were upgrading their old albums to CD in a way that they hadn't with cassettes (where you could just buy blanks and tape onto them), which they could afford to do because the West was rolling in cash in the late 1990s.

But there isn't as much spare cash around in 2009 as there was in 1999, and who would buy downloads to replace their old CDs when you can rip them? Sure, file sharing is having an impact, but even without it, those two factors would have driven sales down from the 1999 peak.

Also, it's much easier nowadays to find a cheap second-hand CD copy of whatever you're after than it was in the 1990s, thanks to Amazon and eBay. Those sales won't show up on any of these charts. Back in the 1980s/1990s, finding stuff in used record & CD stores involved a lot of pot luck and dedication; if you wanted to scratch an itch right away, you had to buy it new. Now you can often pay half-price for exactly the same physical product if you're prepared to wait a few days for it, and that option is open to all sorts of people who would never have set foot in a High Fidelity-style music store.

So if your implication was that it's all down to those darned file-sharers, nosila, there's the counter-argument you anticipated.
posted by rory at 9:08 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sure, maybe the nuclear weapons stuff was just nonsense, but it was at least an interesting perspective on these weapons done in an infographic.

See, that's exactly my point; it's not an interesting perspective, it's a stupid perspective. It's the technical equivalent of saying 'don't worry: when I shoot you in the head, it will only make a tiny little hole--just a fraction of your body mass!'

This guy is a professional reporter. The airline graph (as peeedro points out) and the nukes graphs are making selective use of information to mislead the reader on important and substantive issues (the US is the most dangerous place to fly, nuclear weapons are not a threat to the survival of humanity).

It's true, this guy is a pretty good designer. But as a reporter, working in traditional print media, he is being unethical.
posted by Dreadnought at 9:49 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to beat a dead horse, but the sixth slide in the airline post, "Bad Flights: Statistically Speaking," is total nonsense too. It looks like he just took his data from country with most crashes, airline with most crashes, and airplane with most crashes and mixed them up willy-nilly. There's no way that a Aeroflot DC-9 flight from the US to Russia can be the most dangerous because Aeroflot does not fly DC-9's, Aeroflot has never crashed a DC-9, and, while I'm not sure on this one, I don't think a DC-9 has the range to service a US to Russia route. A victim to the fallacy of composition just to fill up some more space in his pretty infographic.
posted by peeedro at 10:34 AM on August 17, 2009


The "Google is not a Search Engine" graph is pretty stupid too.
posted by straight at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


These new fangled infographics sure are easier to lie with than the old ones.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:48 PM on August 17, 2009


The Billion Dollar Gram would be a lot more impressive if the boxes were actually in proportion to the amounts, a simple pie chart would actually be a lot clearer.
posted by Lanark at 4:03 PM on August 17, 2009


I like the graphs, but I have to agree with the growing consensus on poor interpretation/use of data.

My favorite account of this was the graph on peak times of the year for the google search "violent video games" which reliably peaks in APril and November of every year. He attributes April to the Columbine Massacre, but has no explanation for November.
Being that he's a journalist, his blindness makes a certain degree of sense - to him "violent video games" and Columbine are inextricably linked, because of the journalist mindset. Far more plausible is the idea that he doesn't present (and which I pointed out in the comments) that "violent video games" is a research term, generally, and that students writing papers are doing their research a month before the end of term - generally in April and November.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:06 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


rory: That definitely wasn't my implication, but it was just the type of comment I hoped to spur. Nice work!
posted by nosila at 9:16 PM on August 17, 2009


Far more plausible is the idea that he doesn't present (and which I pointed out in the comments) that "violent video games" is a research term, generally, and that students writing papers are doing their research a month before the end of term - generally in April and November.

That's some pretty sharp thinking there, sir. Kudos.
posted by peeedro at 10:31 PM on August 17, 2009


Don't like the way that the Twitter graphic implies that the "more than 100 followers" and "loud mouths" are mutually exclusive - I would expect that tweeting frequency and number of followers would be quite strongly correlated (if only because no-one's following the 20 empty accounts).
posted by primer_dimer at 5:01 AM on August 18, 2009


I am so glad I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the site, looking at the charts, bouncing around his Flickr pages and archives, and just appreciating the work he has put into this. Because I knew that was all gonna change once I came here and started reading the comments.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:04 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amen, iamkimiam. I really appreciate Metafilter's hyper-critical bent, but some days it kind of gets to me at the same time.
posted by nosila at 10:51 AM on August 18, 2009


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