The cover story in today’s Chicago Tribune on Chicago’s status as a global city includes a nice graphic showing how Chicago matches up on a variety of dimensions.
This sort of multi-dimensional graphic is becoming more common. Its biggest advantage is that it can display a lot of information across a variety of dimensions. This graphic shows 10 different aspects of being a global city. It is also relatively easy to compare ranks of cities, if you know what you are looking at – the further out the area or the more area a city covers on the graphic means a higher ranking. Of course, the biggest downside is that is takes a little bit of time to figure out how to read it. Is a city better if it is closer to the middle or further away on each dimension? (It is is better to be further out – higher ranking cities cover more area.) It can also be a lot to take in at once.
It is a nice addition to add the seven comparison cities at the bottom with Chicago’s mass overlaid on each diagram. Just having Chicago’s rankings graphed would provide some information but do so without any context.