Whether it’s getting people to better understand the distribution of people throughout France or more contentious variables such as life expentancy, fuel consumption or violent crimes throughout the world, the field of explaining data is progressing, and with it hopefully greater understanding.
One relatively new way of explaining information are cartograms. A cartogram is a map in which some thematic mapping variable is substituted for land area. The geometry or space of the map is distorted in order to convey the information of this alternate variable.
As seen below in the world represented by the variable global fuel consumption in 2002.
At worldmapper.org you can find around 700 maps ranging from variables such as income, disease and mortality to urban slums, HIV and exports, etc. They even have animations of variables over time such as an animation of the world sized by people living on less than a $1 a day to those earning over $200.
One man who has found a clever way of explaining himslef to his students is Hans Rosling. Hans uses technology to interact with information to better understand trendlines such as infant mortality and HIV Aids . For those who don’t have the time to watch his 20 minute video, I suggest you go to the itunes store, and download his TED talk (under podcasts) for free which is only a few minutes long.
For all those people looking for better ways to get your point across, whether it is global warming or military spending, remember to always keep your representation in perspective. It is very easy to make a map that proves your point a 1,000 fold, however without context, it is as helpful as propoganda.