Infographics can be incredibly informative and illuminating in a way that words cannot. I like to introduce my students to various ways of representing, particularly in the context of math and science graphing. The way that we present to information will change the affect that it has upon the reader. Below is a brief post I wrote in the topic for a media studies course I was taking recently.
Media has drastically evolved in the last 10-20 years. In 1996 would we be able to imagine the sheer ubiquity and accessibility of information and media? Check out this visualization of the rates of uploading of various media. (Update: The link is no longer working, but this visualization is a decent replacement.) I, for one, embrace the explosion of information available to me. I particularly enjoy podcasts. I listen to a variety of them for entertainment, information, and self-improvement. However, there is no doubt that we are immersed in a visual culture.
As noted in Voithofer (2005), the 20th century saw the development of visual culture from the humble beginnings of photography. The stillness of life visually distilled quickly gave way to motion pictures. We can see the development of 3D and sensory experiences continuing that evolution. One artifact of visual culture on the internet that I find particularly fascinating is the Infographic.
An infographic is a visually stimulating representation of some information. There is a tacit promise of academic rigour in an infographic that makes one feel as though the information presented is fact. “Modern empirical methods in the social and educational sciences are largely predicated on the eye as giving truth” (Popkewitz, quoted in Voithofer, 2005). I cannot speak authoritatively about the fidelity of the information presented in these lovely picto-graphics, but I can say they are engaging to look at (and sometimes interact with). I have written about them elsewhere, if you are interested.
This awesome website/infographic describes why the visual genre is so compelling, from a neurological and psychological standpoint. The infographic encapsulates the selection, abstraction and transformation of factual observations into visual representations. Here we see very specific selection; vocabulary of hip-hop artists. This animated infographic uses abstraction to show how microscopic eggs grow into macroscopic babies. Finally, this infographic about the research behind and efficacy of various substances and supplements is an example of how selection and abstraction contribute to the transformation that the authors use to convey their message.
Some of these graphics are more than just visual, but all represent a coordination of visuals and human/computer interface that has become a primary source of information in today’s digital world.
Please share any infographics you have come across in your surfings.
Voithofer, Rick. “Designing new media education research: The materiality of data, representation, and dissemination.” Educational Researcher 34.9 (2005): 3-14.
Perhaps posting a post is a cop-out for a blogger, though I still stand by the content and would love for you to direct me to any examples that you find particularly compelling.