Howard Friedman sent me a new book, The Measure of a Nation, subtitled How to Regain America’s Competitive Edge and Boost Our Global Standing. Without commenting on the substance of Friedman’s recommendations, I’d like to endorse his strategy of presentation, which is to display graph after graph after graph showing the same message over and over again, which is that the U.S. is outperformed by various other countries (mostly in Europe) on a variety of measures. These aren’t graphs I would ever make—they are scatterplots in which the x-axis conveys no information. But they have the advantage of repetition: once you figure out how to read one of the graphs, you can read the others easily.
Here’s an example which I found from a quick Google:
I can’t actually figure out what is happening on the x-axis, nor do I understand the “star, middle child, dog” thing. But I like the use of graphics. Lots more fun than bullet points. Seriously.
P.S. Just to be clear: I am not trying to mock or disparage Friedman’s book. In all seriousness, I applaud the use of graphs, even those that I would not make myself.
P.P.S. All the comments below are ragging on the above graph. That’s fine, but let me re-emphasize that, for all their problems, I like the graphs. Considering that the probable alternatives would be tables or a confusing presentation of partial information in paragraph form.