Better or Worse

An interactive animation and poll asking whether the world has got better or worse in the last twenty years. Created for the Guardian, summer 2012. Shortlisted for the data journalism awards 2013.

The brief

The Rio+20 conference in June 2012 was a giant global meeting on sustainable development, timed to mark twenty years since the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The Guardian wanted to make use of the huge amounts of data available to take stock of how the world had changed in the interim, socially and environmentally.

Our approach

In order to pack the maximum amount of data into the most digestible form – but still allow the we came up with a new format called a "Talkie". The idea is to combine the simplicity and story-telling strength of traditional video-based animation (press play, sit back, watch) with the enhanced capabilities of interactive content (click around, explore, contribute).

After watching the ninety-minute presentation, users are invited to vote on whether the overall direction of travel has been positive or negative.

To vote, users had to specify their age, gender and continent, enabling an opinion poll-style breakdown to be displayed. Tens of thousands of viewers from all over the world watched the animation in the first few days, with more than 14,000 giving their views. The results were somewhat surprising: those most inclined to a positive view included men, young people and people in Africa; those most inclined to a negative view were women, the elderly and people in Asia.


Shortlisted, Data Journalism Awards 2013.