This not the game of life - but it’s a visualization of someone’s life. And while a picture might say a thousand words – what does an image made up of a thousand statistics say?
We see them, we read them but we often have a tough time understanding their magnitude – numbers, the backbone of research and credibility (and the bane of a writer’s existence). Luckily, we live in a multimedia Mecca, with access to all forms of statistical visualization.
And yet for some reason all we see are easy-to-build Google maps all over local news sites. Sure they’re easy to make, and quite effective, but how else can we tell a story? And is it possible for a graphic to work effectively in both a print and interactive format? Well, it depends on your data.
Today I found some information regarding elderly drivers. Love ’em or hate ’em, there sure are a lot of them – according to a 2009 Stats Can report, uh I’ll just let you enjoy the juiciest part of the report here:
“In 2009, 3.25 million people aged 65 and over, or three-quarters of all seniors, had a driver’s licence. Of that number, about 200,000 were aged 85 and over.
There was a substantial gap between men and women with respect to having a driver’s licence, particularly in those aged 85 and over. In 2009, 67% of men aged 85 and over living in private households had a driver’s licence, compared with 26% of women.
In 2009, more than two-thirds (68%) of seniors aged 65 to 74 reported that their main form of transportation was driving their own vehicle. Less than 6% used public transit and 3% walked or used a bicycle.
Among seniors aged 85 and over, 56% of men and 18% of women reported that their main form of transportation was driving their own vehicle.” (Statistics Canada)
I specifically bolded the numbers and percentages to show you what journalists have to sieve through for a good story; although, I assure you I’m a big fan of stats( B+). Obviously an interactive map is not appropriate to show this data; but the numbers are important as they’re the blood pumping the heart of the story, which would include a Pulitzer-worthy interview with Opal about her experience driving as an elderly lady
Since the data involves many variables, there are multiple info graphics that would work in this case. A 3D bar graph, or a 3D bar graph with pink and blue cars at the end of the lines, indicating male and female drivers. Inspired by advertising, you could use a photograph of a female elderly driver on one side of (say) a magazine fold, a male on the other (both behind wheels) and have the main statistic information graphed below them like a speedometer, writing the rest out beside them. Now you have a human face by your graphic (or a designed image).
We can step aways from maps and pie charts (using them when it works), and an effective way to show the numbers can be through (a series of) drawings or a new wave of graphics known as “real world” (such as the head scarf one below) something I was trying to mimic above. You can see what I like in information graphics at Information is Beautiful, they do really kooky creative visualizations of data. I’ve also added a few more information graphics I found effective – even though I have no clue what the last one means…