Bloomberg Politics put out a beautiful data visualization in light of the recent election of Paul Ryan to Speaker of the House. While their chosen title highlights the recent trend of Speakers no longer working for the government after the gig, there is actually a treasure trove of information to explore here. All past Speakers are listed, and their involvement in various government positions are represented in a timeline. There are also several options at the top to highlight each position, with various callouts providing more facts.
This audience for this graph is for, primarily, people interested politics, but also for everyone on the internet as well. Therefore , while the topic is probably inherently more interesting to those primary people, the information is presented simply and very digestab-ly – no prior knowledge is required to understand the graph at all. I believe while they list their goal as convincing you that Ryan may be nearing the end of his career, they also want you to notice other trends shown by the data – for example, the modern shift towards a longer term for Speakers.
This visualization is extremely effective. All the timelines grouped together identify many trends that may not have been immediately perceived. The reader is also prevented from being overwhelmed by so much data via grouping under several ‘categories’ that can be highlighted, as well as using color and line weight for visual cues. While the title’s topic captures the reader, all the other data holds the reader’s attention and causes more exploration. Even though I don’t have a strong interest in politics, I found that I was enjoying myself and learning a lot when I delved into this visualization.