In the past, I have written articles stressing the importance of making data meaningful for our audiences. Drawing inspiration from such sources as Carl Sagan and the Long Island Initiative, I have tried to show examples of how statistics need to be put into context. As Chip and Dan Heath emphasize in Made to Stick:
Statistics are rarely meaningful in and of themselves. Statistics will, and should, almost always be used to illustrate a relationship. It’s more important for people to remember the relationship than the number.
Thus, I was delighted to receive an email a few weeks ago from Jen Rhee of MBAonline, offering me the opportunity to use her great info-graphic on the Internet. In the info-graphic, Jen creatively displays how much time is spent on the Internet every single day using statistics and simple graphics. [Update: As of January 2020, the infographic is no longer online. However, the statistics below are still dramatic.]
From a presentation perspective, I particularly like those statistics that Jen puts into context so that we can process a large number more easily. For example:
- 294 billion emails are sent each day. It would take the United States Postal Service two years to process that many pieces of mail!
- Two million blog posts are written each day (including this one). That’s enough material to fill Time Magazine for 770 years!
- 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each day. That’s equivalent to 98 years on non-stop cat videos! (Disclaimer: We have a wonderful tabby who has been with us for 13 years. In all that time, I have not uploaded a single cat video.)
These statistics and images would be very effective in a presentation about the Internet and how much time we spend on it. Of course, you would have to divide the images over several slides or use software like Prezi to zoom in on one statistic at a time.