What Will Be Left Then?

Even though I generally play more with creating learning activities than representing information, I’m fascinated by data visualization.

A couple of weeks ago, I created an infographic as part of Information is Beautiful’s first visualization challenge.

Information is Beautiful provided a spreadsheet of data about when the reserves of various non-renewable resources will be depleted.   I carried the data in my handbag and periodically pulled it out to peer at it while waiting at doctor’s offices, restaurants, and the like.  However, because of various commitments and some possible procrastination on my part, I ended up with only to one day to actually design and develop the visualization in Flash.  I decided to go for it anyway.

Here’s a screenshot from the visualization I created:

If you click on the image (or here), you can view the interactive version in my portfolio. As the viewer clicks the timeline to view different stages of a person’s life, the resources at the bottom of the screen gray out as the reserves for each are projected to be extinguished.

I wanted to focus on the emotional aspects of resource depletion and decided to frame the depletion of resources around the life of a child born in 2011.  Perhaps in part because my husband and I are expecting our first child in March, I was overwhelmed by the extent to which these non-renewable resources largely disappear within the span of only a single lifetime.

So, my design regrets.

If I’d left myself more time for working on this project, I would have animated the timeline and had the resources gradually fade out over time, versus just disappearing at specific points on the timeline.  I also would have spent more time focusing on how to better represent the resources themselves – maybe with images, instead of text, or by focusing on the uses for the resources rather than the resources themselves.

Information is Beautiful posted the winning designs last week.  They’ll also be announcing their next design challenge any day, likely via their awards blog.  As a big advocate of both viewing nifty designs and playing with new projects, I’d recommend checking out them both.