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Natural Gas [geblogs.com] designed by Information is Beautiful (slash David McCandless) is the latest addition to G.E.'s already impressive collection of interactive infographics, which already includes works like Pentagram's CFO Outlook and Contrasting the Drivers of Innovation.

The Natural Gas infographic illustrates various factual statistics about the scarcity of this natural resource, and includes a view on how many cubic meters or years that are left before the availability of gas will run out, an overview of the top 7 countries with reserves, yearly producers and biggest consumers, and contrasts the availability of natural gas against that of oil and coal.


How are we suppose to compare a packed bubble chart, a treemap, and fractal triangles? There's information there, but the beauty is in the nice visual, not the clarity of the comparison.

Sat 18 Jun 2011 at 7:54 AM

Those are awful. How many errors can you spot? Using area for a scalar, making people compare different shapes, comparing shapes that aren't neighbors, ...

And at the end, we are comparing three numbers. Reserves for oil, gas, and coal. This has to be the most complicated way to compare three numbers.

Please tell us who did this so we won't hire them.

Sat 18 Jun 2011 at 4:25 PM

In first reaction on the three comments above, i thought they are right, what is this strange comparison. But when you actually open the app it's clear that it is not about comparing of oil and gas and coal. It's about the reserve of the 3 natural resources.
Too often pure statistic people judge statistics on their one dimensional facts. But there is more, like storylines and tempting the audience.

Wed 22 Jun 2011 at 11:04 PM

I also agree with the comments. The infography unfortunately is not clear at all. Even if we consider that these three elements come from three different natural resources, the patterns could at least suggest the element itself (the oil, the gas and the coal), helping the observer to understand that it is not a comparison between them. Using such generic patterns and in the same color make the information even more confused. The comparison is also inevitable if putting them in the same screen. I also don't see the representation of the time information and the average increase as well. It's a pity because I was interested in the content of this infography.

Tue 05 Jul 2011 at 1:08 AM

This kind of stuff that Information is Beautiful churns out is consistently some of the worst kind of visualisation that I see - The focus seems to be on making the data pretty, not making it clear. It's created a whole extra layer of encoding that has to be worked through to see the data.

I had to work to actually see the actual data behind the different shapes. It should never be the case that that a visualisation only makes sense once you've actually managed to extract the data it purports to show. The data set there doesn't seem particularly huge and there are plenty of ways that it could have been presented with higher resolution and fewer transitions.

Can we coin a term for the kind of behaviour illustrated here: "ADHDing data"?

Mon 11 Jul 2011 at 12:28 AM
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