Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Infographics: Being and Doing (Part I)

The role and use of information graphics ...


Information graphics reveal the hidden, explain the complex and illuminate the obscure. Constructing visual representation of information is not mere translation of what can be read to what can be seen. It entails filtering the information, establishing relationships, discerning patterns and representing them in a manner that enables a consumer of that information construct meaningful knowledge.

In the attention scarce world of today, information graphics (or infographics) have taken the media and communications industries by storm. From simple instructions on how to assemble your table, to explaining how a conjoined set of twins were surgically separated, to understanding what went wrong in the Challenger Shuttle disaster – designers, educators, journalists, and communicators in general have embraced infographics to help audience understand their intent in a swifter and smarter way.

In this article we will explore what an infographic is, how it evolved, and what it takes to create one.

What is an infographic?

Infographics are traditionally viewed as visual elements such as charts, maps, or diagrams that aid comprehension of a given text-based content. Thus, a newspaper infographic on a breaking news accident is expected to faithfully record, using visuals, what has been explained in the accompanying text.

However, as we shall see in this article, visual representation of information can be more than just the manner in which we are able to record what has been discovered by other means. I hope to establish that they have the potential to become the process by which we can discern new meaning and discover new knowledge.

A classic example of an infographic that not merely illustrates the content but interprets it in a manner that was not possible otherwise, was produced by Dr. John Snow to identify the cause of cholera epidemic in Central London. By plotting (Figure 1) the two available sets of data about number of deaths and their corresponding locations, Snow was able to pinpoint the notorious contaminated pump well."    (Continued via uiGarden, Venkatesh Rajamanickam)    [Usability Resources]

Location of Cholera Deaths - Usability, User Interface Design

Location of Cholera Deaths


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