Unclear chart - do circles suck?

So do circles suck?
- or can they be used well?

Here is an example of a bad chart, pointed out on Twitter by Nancy Duarte, owner of Duarte Design, author of Slide:ology and one of the Clarity Heroes.
While you have to applaud the attempt to be innovative in presenting data, in this case it just doesn't work. Using circle area makes it difficult to process what could otherwise be some interesting data.

The chart is below (click for large version), or go to the original blog here.


So why doesn't that work? Too many data points, too near in value.

Used well, circles can be used to show large differences in magnitude with one or two data points, but this is too many points with values too close to be easily interpreted.

Question: Does anyone have any great examples of circles being used effectively?
(There's an opening title sequence to a film I can't remember - something about spiralling US debt. It's done with Kinetic Typography and I think it had a great use of circles to show magnitude. I just can't find it...) Will update if I do.

Clarity Rule: Use the right tool for the job

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