visual display of plaintive information

Not sure if everyone is familiar with Edward Tufte’s work, but I imagine a lot of you Ghost Islanders would enjoy it (Visual Display of Quantitative Information being the most famous, I think).  This animated map, illustrating the fallout of the bust in ’08 based on Bureau of Labor statistics, reminds me of a Tufte piece although it’s not really as abstracted and mind-blowing as some of his finer works.  Similar, though, in that it gives you a sort of flyover of a massive amount of information in a manner that is easy to process and absorb a narrative from (without spinning or dumbing it down), which I think is important.

My home state of Michigan, of course, gets top marks for it’s ability to lose jobs early and often throughout the timeline presented (August 2010 – No More Jobs to Lose!) but it’s interesting to see the pockets that remain blue throughout the whole meltdown.    Any other regional insights?  WTF southern Texas?  Is that drug money that keeps the growth moving?

Closing thought:  The rise of the Tea Party strikes me as a classic kind of desperate times/desperate measures situation.  Their ability to seem authoritative and confident despite offering no concrete information whatsoever about how they would actually enact any of their atrocious ideas (beyond laughably simplified nonsense) is a sort of cynical masterstroke in a climate of fear and uncertainty.  They feed off of the malaise and desperation that accompanies the unemployment and economic hardship that you see settling over the land in the above map.  Presumably, a path towards stability will also undermine their appeal and, as I believe and hope, the Tea Party will be a historical footnote, limited to the tumult following the dramatic downturn of 08/09/10.  Either way, it’s a scary and, to a generation that enjoyed stability and prosperity in their youth, informative reminder of the kind of blind madness that accompanies times of fear and desperation, even in an incredibly affluent modern society.  The flipside of that is the possibility that we’re collectively sliding towards a Age of Desperation, driven by environmental crisis, resource scarcity, and economic realignment.  If that’s the case, this might just the first frost of a long winter.  Strange days.


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