Visual and interactive guides to the economic crisis

As the economy continues to take a turn for the worse, many media organization and citizen journalists are finding creative and innovative ways to explain the complex factors that contribute to the slump.

USA Today uses a Flash-based map to compare homeowners who took on large amounts of debt to purchase a new home in 2000 versus 2007. Viewers of the interactive project can use a scrubber to toggle between the two years and make direct comparisons.

The New York Times also uses a scrubber to illustrate the ups and downs (but mostly downs) of the nation’s stocks and commodities in 2008. Along with facts and figures, the interactive also provides a chilling narrative that explains the dwindling numbers.

Nothing’s scarier than a sea of red, whether it’s tons of edits scribbled in red ink or an indicator of a declining stock market. The S&P 500 Heatmap is a visual representation of the stock index that more cleverly illustrates just how bad things are.

MapLib takes the stock market/mapping idea in another direction with its Google Maps mashup of the world’s financial centers. Bad news is it’s red all over the world.

CNN has blended video of the everyday people who have been affected by the economic downturn with an interactive map of the unemployment rates, job losses and foreclosure rates in each of the 50 states. The project puts a face on what otherwise would be a series of sobering numbers.

The Crisis of Credit Visualised by Johnathan Jarvis is a unique video that explains one cause of economic woes through motion typography and animation. And because even a global financial meltdown sounds great when put to song, “Mortgage Crisis Blues” aural interpretation of why many homeowners found themselves in more debt than they could afford is depressing, yet catchy.

The New York Times asks “Has your portfolio plummeted? So has ours.” It would be funny if it wasn’t both serious and true. Nevertheless, the Times’ “Calculate Your Financial Comeback” lets users input a set of variables, including current portfolio value, to determine how long it will take to recover from financial lows. The time span can be either heartbreaking or optimistic, depending on the answer returned.

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