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When Data Becomes Beauty

May 1, 2011

I love informational graphics. Generally they provide timely data aggregation in a captivating way which is often both difficult and impressive when it’s done well. Creativity when partnered with a specific message driven purpose can have phenomenal results.

Below are my top five info-graphics with a purpose in the past year.

This representation of the Congress both as it is now and as it could be is a strong persuasive statement about the homogenous nature of the United States Congress and the unrepresented diversity of the States. It’s a talking point which would be good in and of itself but the patriotic color scheme and similarities to polling representations of congress really sell it’s overall message. 

This interpretation of what the US spends on military preparation versus foreign aid is a great argument about our values as a nation—and it’s use of military inspired colors (greens, browns, and blues) gives a more subtle example of our dedication to military efforts—and lack of support to others.

This illustration from Prose before Hos is great grounder when you bugged down in polling and other interesting data (like April’s post on Same Sex Marriage Supporters). Because really there are few things to honestly consider after this.

Data surrounding space station operations don’t generally appeal to me but when the space agency announced in January that they would be manning their last shuttle mission in June the changes in their operation plans became a bit more interesting. This graphic is a perfect exploration of what future missions could be.


Anecdotally, its obvious that better education leads to better prospects later in life. An interactive info-graphic from GOOD gives more factual evidence to that point and manages to reveal a lot more about the links between education and money. The map shows graduation rates of high school and college as pink and yellow while median household income is shown in blue. The darker each color the higher the average of each. When the three maps are laid out together you begin to interpret a lot about a place. For example if a place is black it means that the area has a high percentage of high-school and college grads that make a great deal of money. There aren’t that many ‘black’ areas of the states based off the most recent data.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 11, 2012 11:03 AM

    Hi there –
    I know it’s a little late in the game to be commenting on a post from 2011, but the graphic about partisan, racial, gender, and religious representation in Congress brings up timeless questions about the value of elected officials reflecting the demographic characteristics of the populations they represent. I just blogged about a similar graphic here – – which uses a different color scheme and related but refined layout. Personally, I like the rainbow colors better, especially in the case of race, which I’d rather see represented in a way that has nothing to do with skin tones whatsoever because using skin tone to represent race reifies boundaries for no particularly good reason. Still, I’d be curious to hear which graphic you like better.

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