Numbers. They can be so hard to read and make sense of. Thank God intrepid designers are constantly turning those numbers into beautifully designed maps, charts, and graphics for us to feast our eyes on. We love infographics for their ability to take the complicated concepts we’re often discussing here and break them down so that they’re digestible.
One age-old way to do that is a simple map, which we saw a lot of in the past year. Maps that rearrange America into new states based on how our dollar bills move or where our water comes from. Even a map of an America divided into three separate countries based on our emotional states. (For a list of just maps, click here).
But once we’ve happily rearranged the states for a while, there are also other concerns. Bike sharing, buses, and our bodies and what we put in them. Finally, please scroll all the way to the bottom for an incredibly amusingly large infographic that deliciously mocks the de rigueur ridiculously tall infographics, while also making an important point about conservation.
Enjoy these graphics, you’re going to get smarter while you read them, without even knowing. If you want to see 2012’s best infographics, too, go here.
Nothing says you’ve got a few pounds to lose like looking in the mirror. Here, an artist holds up a mirror to America’s expanding waist line.
Using a site that tracks dollar bills, a theoretical physicist noticed that our state boundaries are rather arbitrary, but that money tends to stay within new, more realistic boundaries.
This infographic shows the hard truth for anyone in their late 30s or younger: Everything has been more difficult for you, and it’s just getting worse.
Will we be left out of the “new economic world order”?
This interactive graphic, which lets you see the economic stats for every ZIP code in the country, shows the emergence of “Super ZIPs”–communities where nearly everyone is wealthy.
You, too, could look like the pictures for gym ads–without any Photoshop. All it takes is a few of these little tricks of light and perspective. Or we could just agree to not feel bad about ourselves.
Instead of fighting over water, what if each state’s boundaries let it get water from one source? Check out the Watershed States of America.
America is divided by politics, economics, and geography. But it turns out that we also tend to cluster around people who act the same as us.
Bike sharing is just starting to really catch on in the U.S., but it’s huge all over the world. These maps show the systems in cities from Moscow to Rio.
These maps of how fast the buses drive through Boston offer a beautiful look at the city’s transit system.
These heat maps of the U.S. break down how people use language and pronounce words differently in different parts of the country: Soda vs. pop, sub vs. hero, water fountain vs. … bubbler?
The maps from Geography of Hate look at where across the country people are most likely to be tweeting something deeply hateful.
Contrasting the amount of people eaten by sharks annually with the number of sharks killed by humans in a single day puts the deadly ocean predator’s plight in a different context. It’s more sharks than you can possibly prepare yourself for.
Read more of our best stories of the year in these categories: Top stories, infographics, photography, maps, buildings, design, cities, food, transportation, innovative workplaces, bikes, collaborative consumption, energy, crowdfunding, robots, environment, health, education