Tag Archives: infographic

The Worst of States, the Best of States

Following on from our recent article showing the best of these United States, it’s time to look at the worst.

[div class=attrib]From Frank Jacobs / BigThink:[end-div]

The United States of Shame again gets most of its data from health stats, detailing the deplorable firsts of 14 states (9). Eight states get worst marks for crime, from white-collar to violent (10), while four lead in road accidents (11). Six can be classed as economic worst cases (12), five as moral nadirs (13), two as environmental basket cases (14). In a category of one are states like Ohio (‘Nerdiest’), Maine (‘Dumbest’) and North Dakota (‘Ugliest’).

All claims are neatly backed up by references, some of them to reliable statistics, others to less scientific straw polls. In at least one case, to paraphrase Dickens, the best of stats really is the worst of stats. Ohio’s ‘shameful’ status as nerdiest state is based on its top ranking in library visits. Yet on the ‘awesome’ map, Ohio is listed as the state with… most library visits.

Juxtaposing each state’s best and worst leads to interesting statistical pairings. But with data as haphazardly corralled together as this, causal linkage should be avoided. Otherwise it could be concluded that:

A higher degree of equality leads to an increase in suicides (Alaska);
Sunny weather induces alcoholism (Arizona);
Breastfeeding raises the risk of homelessness (Oregon).
Yet in some cases, some kind of link can be inferred. New Yorkers use more public transit than other Americans, but are also stuck with the longest commutes.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]

The Best of States, the Worst of States

[div class=attrib]From Frank Jacobs / BigThink:[end-div]

Are these maps cartograms or mere infographics?

An ‘information graphic’ is defined as any graphic representation of data. It follows from that definition that infographics are less determined by type than by purpose. Which is to represent complex information in a readily graspable graphic format. Those formats are often, but not only: diagrams, flow charts, and maps.

Although one definition of maps – the graphic representation of spatial data – is very similar to that of infographics, the two are easily distinguished by, among other things, the context of the latter, which are usually confined to and embedded in technical and journalistic writing.

Cartograms are a subset of infographics, limited to one type of graphic representation: maps. On these maps, one set of quantitative information (usually surface or distance) is replaced by another (often demographic data or electoral results). The result is an informative distortion of the map (1).

The distortion on these maps is not of the distance-bending or surface-stretching kind. It merely substitutes the names of US states with statistical information relevant to each of them (2). This substitution is non-quantitative, affecting the toponymy rather than the topography of the map. So is this a mere infographic? As the information presented is statistical (each label describes each state as first or last in a Top 50), I’d say this is – if you’ll excuse the pun – a borderline case.

What’s more relevant, from this blog’s perspective, is that it is an atypical, curious and entertaining use of cartography.

The first set of maps labels each and every one of the states as best and worst at something. All of those distinctions, both the favourable and the unfavourable kind, are backed up by some sort of evidence.

The first map, the United States of Awesome, charts fifty things that each state of the Union is best at. Most of those indicators, 12 in all, are related to health and well-being (3). Ten are economic (4), six environmental (5), five educational (6). Three can be classified as ‘moral’, even if these particular distinctions make for strange bedfellows (7).

The best thing that can be said about Missouri and Illinois, apparently, is that they’re extremely average (8). While that may excite few people, it will greatly interest political pollsters and anyone in need of a focus group. Virginia and Indiana are the states with the most birthplaces of presidents and vice-presidents, respectively. South Carolinians prefer to spend their time golfing, Pennsylvanians hunting. Violent crime is lowest in Maine, public corruption in Nebraska. The most bizarre distinctions, finally, are reserved for New Mexico (Spaceport Home), Oklahoma (Best Licence Plate) and Missouri (Bromine Production). If that’s the best thing about those states, what might be the worst?

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]

Life of a Facebook Photo

Before photo-sharing, photo blogs, photo friending, “PhotoShopping” and countless other photo-enabled apps and services, there was compose, point, focus, click, develop, print. The process seemed a lot simpler way back then. Perhaps, this was due to lack of options for both input and output. Input? Simple. Go buy a real camera. Output? Simple. Slide or prints. The end.

The options for input and output have exploded by orders of magnitude over the last couple of decades. Nowadays, even my toaster can take pictures and I can output them on my digital refrigerator, sans, of course, real photographs with that limp, bendable magnetic backing. The entire end-to-end process of taking a photograph and sharing it with someone else is now replete with so many choices and options that today it seems to have become inordinately more complex.

So, to help all prehistoric photographers like me, here’s an interesting process flow for your digital images in the age of Facebook.

[div class=attrib]From Pixable:[end-div]

How your dad’s music influences your taste

[div class=attrib]From Sonos:[end-div]

There’s no end to the reasons why you listen to the music you do today, but we’re willing to bet that more than a few of you were subjected to your father’s music at some point in the past (or present). So that leads to the question: what do dear old dad’s listening habits say about the artists in your repertoire? In honor of Father’s Day, we tried our hand at finding out.

[div class=attrib]More from the Source here.[end-div]

Map of the World’s Countries Rearranged by Population

[div class=attrib]From Frank Jacobs / BigThink:[end-div]

What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

The result would be this disconcerting, disorienting map. In the world described by it, the differences in population density between countries would be less extreme than they are today. The world’s most densely populated country currently is Monaco, with 43,830 inhabitants/mi² (16,923 per km²) (1). On the other end of the scale is Mongolia, which is less densely populated by a factor of almost exactly 10,000, with a mere 4.4 inhabitants/mi² (1.7 per km²).

The averages per country would more closely resemble the global average of 34 per mi² (13 per km²). But those evened-out statistics would describe a very strange world indeed. The global population realignment would involve massive migrations, lead to a heap of painful demotions and triumphant promotions, and produce a few very weird new neighbourhoods.

Take the world’s largest country: Russia. It would be taken over by its Asian neighbour and rival China, the country with the world’s largest population. Overcrowded China would not just occupy underpopulated Siberia – a long-time Russian fear – but also fan out all the way across the Urals to Russia’s westernmost borders. China would thus become a major European power. Russia itself would be relegated to Kazakhstan, which still is the largest landlocked country in the world, but with few hopes of a role on the world stage commensurate with Russia’s clout, which in no small part derives from its sheer size.

Canada, the world’s second-largest country, would be transformed into an Arctic, or at least quite chilly version of India, the country with the world’s second-largest population. The country would no longer be a thinly populated northern afterthought of the US. The billion Indians north of the Great Lakes would make Canada a very distinct, very powerful global player.

Strangely enough, the US itself would not have to swap its population with another country. With 310 million inhabitants, it is the third most populous nation in the world. And with an area of just over 3.7 million mi² (slightly more than 9.6 million km²), it is also the world’s third largest country (2). Brazil, at number five in both lists, is in the same situation. Other non-movers are Yemen and Ireland. Every other country moves house. A few interesting swaps:

  • Countries with relatively high population densities move to more spacious environments. This increases their visibility. Look at those 94 million Filipinos, for example, no longer confined to that small archipelago just south of China. They now occupy the sprawling Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 12th largest country in the world, and slap bang in the middle of Africa too.
  • The reverse is also true. Mongolia, that large, sparsely populated chunk of a country between Russia and China, is relegated to tiny Belgium, whose even tinier neighbour Luxembourg is populated by 320,000 Icelanders, no longer enjoying the instant recognition provided by their distinctly shaped North Atlantic island home.
  • Australia’s 22.5 million inhabitants would move to Spain, the world’s 51st largest country. This would probably be the furthest migration, as both countries are almost exactly antipodean to each other. But Australians would not have to adapt too much to the mainly hot and dry Spanish climate.
  • But spare a thought for those unfortunate Vietnamese. Used to a lush, tropical climate, the 85 million inhabitants of Vietnam would be shipped off to icy Greenland. Even though that Arctic dependency of Denmark has warmed up a bit due to recent climate changes, it would still be mainly snowy, empty and freezing. One imagines a giant group huddle, just to keep warm.
  • Jamaica would still be island-shaped – but landlocked, as the Jamaicans would move to Lesotho, an independent enclave completely surrounded by South Africa – or rather, in this strange new world, South Korea. Those South Koreans probably couldn’t believe their bad luck. Of all the potential new friends in the world, who gets to be their northern neighbour but their wacky cousin, North Korea? It seems the heavily militarised DMZ will move from the Korean peninsula to the South African-Botswanan border.
  • The UK migrates from its strategically advantageous island position off Europe’s western edge to a place smack in the middle of the Sahara desert, to one of those countries the name of which one always has to look up (3). No longer splendidly isolated, it will have to share the neighbourhood with such upstarts as Mexico, Myanmar, Thailand and – good heavens – Iran. Back home, its sceptered isles are taken over by the Tunisians. Even Enoch Powell didn’t see that one coming.
  • Some countries only move a few doors down, so to speak. El Salvador gets Guatemala, Honduras takes over Nicaragua, Nepal occupies Birma/Myanmar and Turkey sets up house in Iran. Others wake up in a whole new environment. Dusty, landlocked Central African Republic is moving to the luscious island of Sri Lanka, with its pristine, ocean-lapped shores. The mountain-dwelling Swiss will have to adapt to life in the flood-infested river delta of Bangladesh.
  • Geography, they say, is destiny (4). Some countries are plagued or blessed by their present location. How would they fare elsewhere? Take Iraq, brought down by wars both of the civil and the other kind, and burdened with enough oil to finance lavish dictatorships and arouse the avidity of superpowers. What if the 31.5 million Iraqis moved to the somewhat larger, equally sunny country of Zambia – getting a lot of nice, non-threatening neighbours in the process?

Rearranged maps that switch the labels of the countries depicted, as if in some parlour game, to represent some type of statistical data, are an interesting subcategory of curious cartography. The most popular example discussed on this blog is the map of the US, with the states’ names replaced by that of countries with an equivalent GDP (see #131). Somewhat related, if by topic rather than technique, is the cartogram discussed in blog post #96, showing the world’s countries shrunk or inflated to reflect the size of their population.

Many thanks to all who sent in this map: Matt Chisholm, Criggie, Roel Damiaans, Sebastian Dinjens, Irwin Hébert, Allard H., Olivier Muzerelle, Rodrigo Oliva, Rich Sturges, and John Thorne. The map is referenced on half a dozen websites where it can be seen in full resolution (this one among them), but it is unclear where it first originated, and who produced it (the map is signed, in the bottom right hand corner, by JPALMZ).


(1) Most (dependent) territories and countries in the top 20 of Wikipedia’s population density ranking have tiny areas, with populations that are, in relation to those of other countries, quite negligeable. The first country on the list with both a substantial surface and population is Bangladesh, in 9th place with a total population of over 162 million and a density of 1,126 inhabitants/mi² (56 per km²).

(2) Actually, the US contends third place with China. Both countries have almost the same size, and varying definitions of how large they are. Depending on whether or not you include Taiwan and (other) disputed areas in China, and overseas territories in the US, either country  can be third of fourth on the list.

(3) Niger, not to be confused with nearby Nigeria. Nor with neighbouring Burkina Faso, which used to be Upper Volta (even though there never was a Lower Volta except, perhaps, Niger. Or Nigeria).

(4) The same is said of demography. And of a bunch of other stuff.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]

Search Engine History

It’s hard to believe that internet based search engines have been in the mainstream consciousness for around twenty years now. It seems not too long ago that we were all playing Pong and searching index cards at the local library. Infographics Labs puts the last twenty years of search in summary for us below.

[div class-attrib]From Infographic Labs:[end-div]

Search Engine History

Infographic: Search Engine History by Infographiclabs

What is HTML5

There is much going on in the world on internet and web standards, including the gradual roll-out of IPv6 and HTML5. HTML5 is a much more functional markup language than its predecessors and is better suited for developing richer user interfaces and interactions. Major highlights of HTML from the infographic below.

[div class=attrib]From Focus.com:[end-div]

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]