On Scale

Today the New York Times posted an awesome interactive viz that illustrates the scale of the of campaign contributions coming out of United States Households. 

 Image courtesy of NY Times

Image courtesy of NY Times

It reminded me of Mr. Weiner, my fourth grade teacher who wanted his students to understand exactly how much "like, a million" really is, so had them count out one million grains of rice over the course of a few weeks. It also made me think of the different infographics/websites out there that illustrate the size of outer space, or expanse of time. 

The point is, it's really hard to comprehend raw numbers, or even percentages, until you actually visualize them. Take the following conundrum: would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or one hundred duck sized horses? You can run through the scenarios in your head, and strategize about your approach in each case.

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses?

At first, I said I would fight 100 duck sized horses because they would be much easier to ward off. But then I thought, "I wonder what 100 actually looks like...." 

 100 duck sized horses

100 duck sized horses

That's a lot of horses! Depending on how they like to fight, it could be death with a thousand cuts. On the other hand, all it takes is one lethal blow to either conquer or be conquered by the horse sized duck. But, how big would this duck actually be? Probably something like this: 

 One horse sized duck

One horse sized duck

Well, I don't know if my chances are any better against this one. Some ducks can be real assholes, plus the wings and beak are unpredictable. But I think this will be a shorter fight. Therefore, my offical choice is to fight the horse sized duck. I would have gone the other way prior to drawing out each scenario to really understand the scale.  Visualization, for the win!

And just for those of you who love these interactives as much as I do, here's one more great one for good measure: an interactive viz that lets you filter around tons of different historic events. 

 An interactive Viz of historical events on Wikipedia

An interactive Viz of historical events on Wikipedia

Do you have any other great examples of scale? Or just cool interactives? If so, I'd love to see them. Please share in the coments!  

*** UPDATE 1/5/2016***

I found this fascinating (and scary?) article on Business Insider (originally posted on Wait But Why) that illustrates life milestones as well as mundane events over the scale of an average lifetime. The most impactful visualization is the time spent with parents-- the image is towards the end of the article, but just the numbers are pretty compelling: 

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end."