The world’s most important trivia

Can data be considered a thing of beauty and fun? David McCandless—an author and self-described “independent visual and data journalist” (and proclaimed pie-chart hater; let’s hope he doesn’t mind Venn diagrams)—certainly makes a convincing case with his handsome and clever site, Information is Beautiful.

Recent posts include “The Hierarchy of Social Distractions,” a pyramidal rumination on the digital-culture power struggle in his daily life (one email trumps another from a romantic partner, which is ahead of a video of kittens frolicking. An iPhone, of course, is at the top), and “The Billion Dollar Gram” chart. This eye-opener compares billion-dollar budgets—comparisons of, say, the estimated total amount that will be spent on the Iraq war ($3 trillion) and the cost to feed and educate every child on earth ($465 billion). “I’m interested in how designed information can help us understand the world, cut through BS and reveal hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath,” writes McCandless. “Or, failing that, it can just look cool!” Mission accomplished on both fronts.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. The world’s most important trivia