Here is an example of how the power of visualization can transform data that would otherwise be rather depressing into a piece of insightful artwork that compels you to dig deeper into and learn more about the issue.
Dr. Francois Bertault, my colleague at Tom Sawyer Software, created an interactive visualization with Tom Sawyer Perspectives that presents data from The World Bank of people’s life expectancy vs. fertility rate by country and year. The visualization allows you to filter by country and year, and you can see more details via a tool tip when you roll your mouse over each bubble.
Screenshot of the visualization:
Life expectancy vs. fertility rate of countries that start with the letter “C”:
The x-axis is life expectancy and the y-axis is fertility rate. The size of the bubbles represent the year, with the largest bubbles representing the most recent years. The legend is on the left column.
It would be difficult to draw insight from the raw data, but you can see common patterns among countries when the data is visualized in this bubble graph. For example, the trail of bubbles that suddenly wraps backwards in the first image represent a few common countries within the same time period. Patterns like these can help facilitate further discussions and research into the causes of the drops in both life expectancy and fertility rate, and perhaps even find ways to prevent certain epidemics.
The common trend is lower fertility rates and higher life expectancy.
Feel free to use the comments section to suggest data sets you’d like to visualize; it might show up in future blog posts!