Everybody knows Bill Gates, but I wonder how many of us would recognize Carlos Slim walking down the street. He’s the richest man in the world, worth almost $80 billion. And apparently he doesn’t even own a computer because he prefers to communicate via BlackBerry.
That’s just one of many factoids I learned while exploring "Bloomberg Billionaires," the latest interactive infographic by the Bloomberg Visual Data team, headed by Lisa Strausfeld. Whereas we’ve all perused a "world’s richest" list now and again, this fun visualization allows you to power-sort the origins of each billionaire’s wealth, without ever losing the quirky humanity behind our titans of industry.
"A key part of the experience is getting to know the individual billionaires, so we knew we wanted to feature portraits of some kind," Strausfeld tells Co.Design. "We considered sending a photographer around the world, but were just as happy with our choice to hire an illustrator, Lina Chen."
The illustrations do a lot to ground the graphic’s tone, turning each billionaire into a cast member of Guess Who? Even as you set complex parameters to explore the list—maybe sorting who is over 50, female, and made their wealth through finance (Abby Johnson, by the way)—the interface responds by playing a game of musical chairs with all these portraits, juggling heads and adding an element of whimsy to the results. (To take things a step further, you can even line the heads up in various graphs.) So through UX alone, an esoteric business tool becomes an informative game that anyone can play.
It also leads me to another realization: Go ahead and sort through the billionaires across industries. Which category has the most faces you recognize without the names? I’m betting it’s technology (Zuckerberg, Page, Brin, Bezos, and Gates—Bezos, Ballmer, and Ellison for the geekiest amongst us). Because of all the ways to become a billionaire in our era, technology is by far the most pop-culture-relevant one. Kids these days—no respect for mining.