Catholics and Cardinals

As the conclave in Rome is almost ready to begin, likely sometime next week, cardinals are gathering in Rome to discuss the affairs of the Catholic Church and then elect a new pope from within their ranks. Many outsiders talk about the time for a pope from outside of Europe, that the papacy has been an office for Europeans—namely Italians—for too long.

However, the preponderance of Catholics outside of Europe is, in the 2000-year history of the Church, a relatively recent phenomenon. Explosive growth in Latin America, Africa, and Asia combined with a decline in European Catholics means that it is only in the last few decades that Europeans have fallen from being nearly 2/3 of the global Catholic Church.

As my infographic attempts to explain, despite this demographic shift, the early Catholic Church chose popes from the distant corners of its territory before it contracted. That historical consolidation in Europe—Italy in particular—has led, however, to a disproportionate weight of cardinal electors, i.e. the cardinals who elect the pope, in favour of Italy and Europe. And as the cardinals typically choose from among their own, it is far more likely that the next pope will come from Europe if not Italy.

Click the image to see the full-sized graphic.

Catholic demographics and share of the cardinals
Catholic demographics and share of the cardinals

Girls in Science…Just Not in the United States

This piece from the New York Times is really well done. With simple colours to differentiate three groups, values are charted on a scatter plot to show the distribution of results for an OECD science test in 65 countries. The results clearly show regional differences in the performance of girls in the sciences depending upon the region.

The overall picture
The overall picture

But to make the story clearer for those who may not take the time to really delve into the data, five simple buttons on the upper right take the user through the story by annotating the different highlighted views shown in each step.

Southern and Eastern Europe and the Middle East are Highlighted
Southern and Eastern Europe and the Middle East are Highlighted

Credit for the piece goes to Hannah Fairfield and Alan McLean.

Healthy Living

Yesterday the Washington Post published an article and an accompanying interactive infographic on life expectancy. But not just how long one can expect to live, but also how long one can expect to live in good health. What makes the piece particularly nice and effective are the annotations that explain some of the data points, in particular the outlier of Haitian males.

Life expectancies
Life expectancies

Credit for the piece goes to Bonnie Berkowitz, Emily Chow, and Todd Lindeman.

2012 Olympics: What Makes a Winner (and Will the UK Be One)?

The Olympics are coming, the Olympics are coming. (As if you didn’t know.) In a rare moment of seeing my work outside of my company’s paywall, I can post a few infographics I have created for the 2012 Summer Games in London. The series looks at a few different non-Olympic variables like GDP per capita and mean BMI and sees whether they impact total medal counts in the Olympics.

This first datagraphic (to use my company’s internal language) looks at what makes a winner and will the UK be one this summer. The main chart in the piece compares GDP per capita performance to total medal count in each Olympic year from 1988 to 2008. And yes, we are predicting the UK to win a total of 65 medals this summer.

What Makes an Olympics Winner
What Makes an Olympics Winner

In the interest of full disclosure, I work as the senior graphic designer for Euromonitor International. This series was not intended to be used as part of marketing/promotional piece (I probably need to include the link to download that document here), but instead I designed them all as client-only content. But since others decided to use my work as marketing material, I am fortunately allowed to share it with all of you via my blog. So yeah, that’s pretty cool. Enjoy.

Oil.

Oil, sweet oil. How we depend upon you for modern civilisation. BP published a report on world energy that Craig Bloodworth visualised using Tableau.

Oil production
Oil production

The piece has three tabs; one is for production, another consumption, and a third for reserves. (The screenshot above is for production.) But when I look at each view I wonder whether all the data views are truly necessary?

In production for example, is a map of a few countries truly informative? The usual problem of Russia, Canada, the US, and China dominating the map simply because they are geographically large countries reappears. Furthermore the map projection does not particularly help the issue because it expands the area of Siberia and the Canadian arctic at the expense of regions near the Equator, i.e. the Middle East. That strikes me as counter-intuitive since some of the largest oil producers are actually located within the Middle East.

A map could very well be useful if it showed more precisely where oil is produced. Where in the vastness of Russia is oil being sucked out of the ground? Where in Saudia Arabia? In the US? Leave the numbers to the charts. They are far more useful in comparing those countries like Kuwait that are major producers but tiny geographies.

Lastly about the maps (and the charts), the colour is a bit confusing because nowhere that I have found in my quick exploration of the application does the piece specify what the colours mean. That would be quite useful.

Finally, about the data, the total amount of oil produced, but more importantly consumed, is useful and valuable data. But seeing that China is the second largest consumer after the US is a bit misleading. Per capita consumption would add nuance to the consumption view, because China is over three-times as large as the US in population. Consequently, the average Chinese is not a major consumer. The problem is more that there are so many more Chinese consumers than consumers in any other nation—except India.

A bit of a hit and miss piece. I think the organisation and the idea is there: compare and contrast producers and consumers of oil (and consumers of other energy forms). Alas the execution does not quite match the idea.

Credit for the piece goes to Craig Bloodworth, via the Guardian.

Apple’s New Mac OS X: And Why I Am Not Buying It

The question with Apple computers is when to upgrade the operating system? Apple releases updates every few years. But, I might have to wait and skip the next one, Mountain Lion. After all, Apple is taking a step backward. xkcd explains:

Apple's Mac OS X
Apple's Mac OS X

Kickstarter Fundraising

Kickstarter has been around for a little while now, financing some interesting projects. The New York Times has an infographic about how much each project earned. And while there is nothing particularly fancy about each, they are all scatter plots, the quirk is that the time and value axes have been reversed from their customary positions. While unusual, it supports the longer range for the monetary figures and the short range for the three years of Kickstarter history.

Kickstarter fundraising
Kickstarter fundraising

Furthermore, the data is broken out into different industries, e.g. design, food, and dance, that have adjusted value scales to make intra-industry comparisons easier. Nothing fancy, but an attentive care to the detail of the data.