An average life as interpretive dance

Posted to Data Art  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

BuzzFeed used interpretive dance to describe the average age of the milestones in our lives, from birth, losing the first tooth, marriage, and death. The data points serve more as background, as a way to provide a timeline of events, and the dancing is the primary focus.

I found myself drawn to the comments on YouTube. Typically a cesspool of idiocy and more idiocy, the comment section in this case might be a good representation for how a (younger) general audience interprets averages. All of the top comments are basically, “I guess I’m not average” and “There’s no way that’s the average. [Insert comparison to self.]”

This of course is because averages are just that. They’re the sum of all individuals divided by the total population, and average values represent one aspect of a range or distribution of things.

So in the case of these average ages, most people either fall below or above instead of right in the middle.

But I digress.

Favorites

The Changing American Diet

See what we ate on an average day, for the past several decades.

Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.

Divorce Rates for Different Groups

We know when people usually get married. We know who never marries. Finally, it’s time to look at the other side: divorce and remarriage.

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.