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Common Sense [commonsense-art.com] is a nicely crafted art exhibit examining the most important aspects that determine the American Dream. Through a collection of 13 different data-driven works, the exhibit questions assumptions about the history of the U.S, shows the common goals and dreams of its citizens and illuminates some of the inequalities in U.S. society.

For instance, the "Dow Jones Industrial Infantry" visualizes the size of the 30 companies through little green army men, and compares their human scale to their market capitalization, or total value, of their stock. "Slice of the Pie" is a physical pie chart showing the true relative sacrifice each household makes. Some pieces require a magnifying glass to be truly perceivable. "Styrofoam Cups, Champagne Glasses" highlights the ratio between the average salary and the average CEO salary in America. "Investing in the Future" is a wooden puzzle of US states, of which the height denotes the percent of each state's median income goes toward funding public education.

Thnkx Craig!

Other recent interesting exhibitions include:
. Mapping 30 Years of Ars Electronica
. Level Green
. Work, Meaning and Care
. Information Aesthetics Showcase






This is a nice data display, but I disagree with the data which is, I'm sure you'd agree, a vital part of any good infographic. The salaries compared are that of the average U.S. worker vs. that of the average Forbes 500 or Fortune 500 CEO. As far as I can tell, this isn't noted in the infographic. The VAST majority of U.S. companies are small businesses and their CEOs don't make anywhere close to the $10 million stated in the display. If you actually average out all U.S. CEO pay, I'm certain it will be a small fraction of the stated figure.

Why does this matter? It matters for two reasons. One, infographics are supposed to impart useful and truthful data in a beautiful and understandable fashion. Two, this pay disparity data has been promoted for years by many organizations. But it's a false comparison. To be a fair comparison, it should compare the salary of the average U.S. worker against the salary of the average U.S. CEO. Or it should compare the pay of the top 500 non-CEO U.S. workers against the pay of the top 500 U.S. CEOs. Otherwise, it's a comparison of apples and oranges, making it useless.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 at 3:26 AM
Darrin Dickey
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