The Better World Flux site provides an interface that creates graphic representations of world population trends in just a few easy steps:

  • 0. Reset the display.
  • 1. Drag and drop population trend indicators, or combinations of them, that you want to include in the display;
  • 2. Click to add countries whose relative status vis-a-vis those indicators you want to highlight;
  • 3. Explore the results:
    • a) either by playing an animation or moving the slider with your cursor to see changes over time, and
    • b) by clicking on colorful data bands to display the names of other countries in the same bands.

The indicators correspond to UN Millennium Development Goals. Clicking on the About tab on the Better World Flux site reveals a Glossary of indicators with cross-links to sources of data, some dating back up to six decades. For example, the life-expectancy indicator (1960–2010), which when animated looks bit like a garden slug crawling in general towards a better world, shows:

a. Japan’s human life-expectancy rose to the level of those of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, tops in the world in 1972;

b. Japan then became the sole country at the top in 1981, and was joined by Sweden again in 1983;

c. Switzerland joined those two at the top in 1984, along with a variety of other countries – between 1985 and 1993, including: Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Israel, Macao, Malta, Spain, and the UK;

d. Rwanda became a separate node on the long-tail in the 1990′s.

e. Japan topped the list solo again in 1994, rejoined by Hong Kong from 1996 to 1998, and Switzerland in 1999.

f. Italy and Australia were next to regain the top band, in 2000 and 2001, respectively, followed by Canada, joined by Liechtenstein in 2002, and then Iceland and Israel again in 2003….

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for pointing out Better World Flux (The Best Resources For Creating Infographics, 2011.01.11), and to Richard Byrne, as well (Better World Flux – Create Animated Data Displays, 2011.02.04).

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