Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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On my way back from South Africa I had plenty of time on the plane. A good opportunity to read some magazines. I picked The Economist which, while being a bit myopic with their money bias – I do suspect that their editors even have to think about money while breathing – still covers a huge range of topics and is a source of dense information. With investment banks going broke here and there these days, they certainly had things to write about and they did so in a more useful and informative way than most other papers I read. And on that topic, I suspect they have a far better background than most other papers as well. Yet, they also had plenty of international topics in there, even some considering Africa, which I found encouraging considering the usual choice of topics in European or American publications.

I was rather disappointed by the issue of Time I read. I loved that magazine when I was a kid. Perhaps just because of all the images or because having a magazine written in a different language and with a focus on the US seemed exotic or even exciting. Perhaps they even wrote about interesting things back then. But they certainly don’t do that these days. Among all the colour imagery the issue I had completely focused on tidbits as well as lack of depth or actual information.

Even a hope that they would at least have good design was vain. In fact, the magazine was full of ‘graphs’ – which in these Powerpoint days certainly count as an equivalent of information – which were a bastion of inefficiency. This example could be rated as the most inefficient way to display two data points:

Graph of world population from Time - let's hope Mr Tufte will be burned when dead otherwise I predict constant spinning

For me it’s not even clear whether the graph presents any information about the projected world population. Did the U.N. just spit out a single number for 2050 and they connected it with a slightly curvy line because that looks more interesting? Or is there more behind it? A Time reader would never know.

The also had a graph about stars vs non-stars in films. It looks like another missed opportunity.

An arrow going upwards

It’s teh data, it is.

April 2, 2008, 8:47

Tagged as magazine.

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