Pessimism feels like a given these days. Whether things are truly as hopeless as the media and numerous internet commenters would want you to believe is unclear. What is clear is that there will always be good in the world, and a little reminder to that effect never hurts. UK data journalist David McCandless felt the same way, and he helped design a map that shows what different countries are doing better than the rest of the globe. The map first appeared in the book Information is Beautiful and was recently updated.
Mccandless told The Independent that the process required “roving news articles, rifling big databanks (UN, World Bank, CIA World Facebook) and doing specific Google searches.” He also commented that sometimes to have a diversity of positives, the second choice was occasionally used.
The map is color coded, with each color denoting broad categories for the ways in which certain countries are better than the rest. For example, purple represents ways of superiority concerning “gastronomy” or based around “commodity” goods. Countries that excel in this manner, such as Congo with its cobalt exports or Botswana for diamonds, have their export highlighted in the relevant color. Beyond goods, other colors represent more abstract “goods” like humanity. Examples include Papua New Guinea’s impressive diversity or Rwanda’s high number of women in parliament. Yellow represents “nicety” which appears to include things that make life better for their people, such as medical research in Israel or the best retirement benefits in Panama.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. Some of the things countries have large flaws named in black. The dearth of police in El Salvador is an ever growing crisis. For those who have checked their inboxes ever, you would likely be unsurprised in finding the United States as the highest global offender of spam email.
The positive and negatives on the map prove that global society is pretty damn complex. Progression and regression happen at the same time, but that does not mean that things are hopeless; it just means we live in a complicated and vast world, interconnected by a huge amount of systems that are always attempting to sustain themselves. So if you are feeling a little existential today, take a look at this map.