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Posts Tagged ‘infographic

I am a fan of proper infographics, not wannabes or pretend-to-bes or images mistakenly labelled as infographics.

One of my favourite sources of infographics is BeautifulNews. Here is one of their more recent illustrations.

Then there are data visualisations that create an emotional and cognitive impact.

The tweeted two-minute video illustrates how something fuzzy like income inequality in USA can be cleverly illustrated with an actual pie and not a pie chart.

The impact is made not just from the final product of pie allotments, but also the process of getting there. This creates shock or surprise, which might then trigger some decision-making on the part of the learner.

These are just a few of many clues when deciding when to use static visuals or moving ones for cognitive dissonance.

My immediate reaction to the graph embedded in this tweet was: Now that is an infographic!

Far too many people label images, diagrams, or charts as infographics. Just because an image has information on it does not make it an infographic. If it did, comics qualify as infographics.

Infographics communicate, they do not just illustrate. They take complex phenomena or ideas and help the reader or learner process them more quickly than, say, reading several paragraphs of text.

Infographic: Minard's Napoleon March.

One of my favourite infographics is Minard’s Napoleon March. I discovered this when I was studying visual and information design almost 20 years ago.

The graphic was created in 1869. Thought by some to be the greatest infographic in the world, it communicates some of the complex factors in Napoleon’s Russian campaign.

If you want some background on Minard and the infographic, I suggest this YouTube video as a start.

Video source

The resource in this tweet reminded me why some “infographics” rub me the wrong way.

Some people put words and images together (or make posters out of words) and then call these things “infographics”. They are not.

Words sometimes change in meaning over time and “infographics” is losing its meaning because people do not know or appreciate its history.

Infographics are a method of visualising complex data so that they are more understandable. They are not just for presenting timelines or collating random factoids.

Minard's Napoleon March.

One of the best infographics is also one of the oldest. Minard’s visualisation of Napoleon’s march was created in 1861.

According to this article:

The Minard diagram shows the losses suffered by Napoleon’s army in the 1812-1813 period. Six variables are plotted: the size of the army, its location on a two-dimensional surface (x and y), time, direction of movement, and temperature. This multivariate display on a two dimensional surface tells a story that can be grasped immediately while identifying the source data to build credibility.

It tells a long and complex story visually without resorting to gimmicks or comics (not that there is anything wrong with comics). It combines scientific thinking and artistic expression. It takes time and effort to make. It is complex, urges contemplation, and prompts discussion.

The Minard diagram is an infographic. Most others are misinformation graphics because they are cheap imitations that dilute the meaning and purpose of actual infographics.

I would hesitate to call the graphic embedded in this tweet an infographic.

This is an actual infographic. There is a dynamic version of the static infographic.

But the first graphic, a timeline, does provide a nice summary of the changes in major social media platforms over the year.

Interestingly enough, the embedded image might be easier to see and read on the mobile platform. The catering or preference for mobile is a trend in itself. Long may that continue into 2015!

What if my smartphone is my “paper” and “pen”?


That was my response to this mis-infographic at Edudemic on running effective meetings.

If you think about it, the sort of advice offered by the creator of the graphic is symptomatic of why “new” technology does not seem to work and why “old” technology stays put.

On a related note, new Twitter follower of mine shared a mindmap last week:

My reaction to the mindmap was: What some call distracting I call enabling, facilitating, or connecting. It is a matter of perspective and practice.

Look at it this way. If you are having trouble driving a car, you might say, “Stupid car!” But observers outside might see what is going on and think to themselves, “Stupid driver!”

Often it helps not to blame the tool but to examine the use of that tool.

This is an exception that I am making to a rule. I am responding to an email request to feature an infographic.

I am featuring it partly because the person asked nicely, had credentials, and responded to my queries. I am also including it here because it addresses an emerging but important trend that not many people understand.

Learning analytics is an edtech trend to watch. I highlighted this with the help of the 2011 K-12 Horizon Report to folks from Blackboard when we met at the eLearning Forum Asia 2011 (eLFA).

Based on a tool demonstration they provided some months later, I did not get a sense that Blackboard really understood what learner analytics was. I only saw administrative analytics, not learning or learner analytics.

The infographic below provides a better picture of this [source].

A learning analytics system does not just data mine. It reacts and responds as an intelligent system to every learner. It augments a human instructor by providing more immediate feedback and personalizing learning.

Bottom line: A good learning analytics system is not designed with an administrator or KPIs in mind. It is designed for the learner first and foremost.

Actually, lefties unite! Lefties are more likely to be dyslexic, you know.

As a left-handed person, I like factoids like the item below. But while calls this an infographic, it is not.

[Click image to see larger version at source]

Just because there is information and graphics in the visual does not make this an infographic. Like an untied shoelace, a knot it is not.

There are no citations or sources. The visuals do not help illustrate the quantity or quality of each point. Furthermore, the points within the blue and orange backgrounds have no discernible pattern. They are not a visual alliteration or an arrangement of pros vs cons.

So what makes for a better infographic? This representation by ChaCha.

[Click image to see larger version at source]

This infographic is not really one and some of the examples are anecdotal at best. But it is a drop in the bucket labelled the good of video gaming.

Gaming is good for you


It is interesting to see how often and where Singapore appears on this infographic by Online Schools (click on image for full version).

When I posed the question “Where do we lie?”, I meant two things. Where we are positioned and where the untruths are.

Let us not kid ourselves: Statistics and visuals obscure details and inconvenient truths!

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