Monday, 21st November 2011
By Dale Moore
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A picture is worth a thousand words, goes the old adage, but what if you add a few words - and even statistics - to those pictures; what’s it worth then?
Infographics are a little bit like news soundbites in that they bring together a few relatively boring on their own numbers and turn them into something quite irresistible. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours and show everything from scientific concepts, such as the periodic table and the geological column, to the Insanely Great History of Apple.
In fact, there’s very little that can’t be visualised by an infographic or "information graphic" to give it its original term. The web is awash with them and there are endless websites specialising in showcasing the latest designs. Many are quirky but some are very useful and really do help to visualise an otherwise complex idea.
Take the rather excellent posters available from AIIM (the information management and collaboration folk) over at www.aiim.org. These cover the main themes of information management and provide a very effective visual representation of each area which can be quickly grasped by management, potential clients or anyone in the office.
Or how about websites dealing with one particular theme such as the cloud infographic where a number of visualisations are produced to show different aspects of one topic. The stated aim of this site is: "To provide ways for the general public to better understand cloud computing and the issues surrounding it via the use of infographics". And it works well.
Infographics have been mentioned in a number of articles across the FreePint family of publications since 2009, in particular the Fumsi article on data visualisation so are not new.
Perhaps the fullest treatment so far is the book by David McCandless (a data journalist and information designer) called Information is Beautiful which showcases over 200 images from pop to philosophy.
There are now many tools which allow you to create your own infographic and I wonder how many information professionals actually do. Some people will probably think this is all a bit trivial but anything which helps us present information in a more relevant and meaningful way, to our employers, colleagues or clients, can only be a good thing and I’d love to hear of any infographics produced by colleagues which have proved useful. Heck, I may even have a go myself!
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