In the infographics discipline, The New York Times is like the New York Yankees—better funded and better staffed than almost everyone else. And several times a year, their overwhelming excellence becomes manifest—in fact, they've just released a massive interactive graphic, displaying the voluminous findings of the 2008 American Time Use Survey. If you're at all interested in infographics, you have to take a look.
It takes a couple minutes to orient yourself to the graphic's logic—and in fact, the aggregate view (which you see above) isn't tremendously helpful, since there's way too much data to make sense of in that single graph, and it doesn't display cross-tab comparisons. But click on any data set—for example "work"—and you can isolate it, and look at how it compares across the different demographics. Now that's the stuff.
All kinds of trends then emerge—for example, those with advanced degrees also happen to lead what seems to be the most stereotypically virtuous lifestyles (a point also made by Times columnist Ross Routhat): They spend about half the time watching TV as those with only high school degrees, and they spend more time in church and volunteering than any other demographic. Curiously, they spend less than half the time that high school grads do "relaxing and thinking."
But you can spend literally hours working your way through all the data, stringing together narratives about the different cross-tabs—and that's the sign of a truly rich infographic. Would any layman ever spend as much time plowing through the written report? Of course not.
[Via The New York Times]