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Infographic Of The Day: The Right Chart Can Make Boring Data Pop

A nifty spider chart shows the state of the world’s country’s, with shapes.

Infographic Of The Day: The Right Chart Can Make Boring Data Pop
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Every year the United Nations puts out a development report and…zzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, where was I? Sorry!

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Look, you know and I know that no matter how important a data set is, it’s next to useless if you’re not interested in actually delving into it. Such is the power and promise of infographics–a sexy data vizualization can make data go down smooth, and keep you coming back for more.

A good case in point is Worldshapin’, a clever little project created by programmer Carlo Zapponi and designer Vasundhara Parakh of Visualizing.org. It basically takes the UN’s Human Development report and….zzzzzzzz. Sorry, holiday party last night. Where was I? Anyway, the report ranks every country around the world on numerous scales, ranging from life expectancy to carbon emissions.

Where it gets interesting is that Visualizing charted each country’s performance on an elegantly designed spider chart, allowing you to compare how each country does based simply on its shape. And then, you can actually look at how countries change over time as well. Here’s Poland and the Netherlands in 1980:

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[Click to visit interactive version]

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In 2000:

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And 2011:

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Cool, right? There’s actually the intimation of a great story in there: Note how stable the Netherlands is throughout the years. That’s what you’d expect of a rich, well-developed country. But look at Poland, and how it changed over time. It seems to have dramatically curbed its emissions (or at least stopped getting worse, like everyone else), while improving on almost all metrics. That’s what it looks like when you’re developing your economy well.

And what about the U.S.? This is what world dominance looks like–a big fat blob, which goes a long way to showing you how mighty, and fortunate, we are:

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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