data, aesthetics, and rhetoric

I ran across this very cool visualization of debt statistics (from David McCandless’s Information is Beautiful collection) yesterday:

Cool, right? It’s a smart way to present the info, well-executed, even charming for Gen Xers. It’s the Tetris narrative (enhanced by the accelerating tune) that seems ripe for rhetorical effect, I think. But when I showed it to my (logical) partner, he immediately called out the problem: It has no argument. The numbers, while striking in contrast, have unclear relationships and have been selected, or at least arranged, without seeming to have a point… which may not have been the goal of the creator, obviously.

But imagine the kinds of sweet rhetorical work could be done with such creative approaches to representing sharing data…