Over at Brain Pickings they published an article entitled "How to be an Educated Consumer of Infographics: David Bryne on the Art-Science of Visual Storytelling" and I just couldn't resist another blog post about visuals....I got The Best American Infographics of 2013 as a Christmas present and devoured it in one afternoon. According to Bryne, of Talking Heads fame,
The very best [infographics] engender and facilitate an insight by visual means — allow us to grasp some relationship quickly and easily that otherwise would take many pages and illustrations and tables to convey. Insight seems to happen most often when data sets are crossed in the design of the piece — when we can quickly see the effects on something over time, for example, or view how factors like income, race, geography, or diet might affect other data. When that happens, there’s an instant “Aha!”…The point about allowing us to grasp a relationship quickly and easily is why I love visuals (infographic, comic, painting, photograph, television, etc. etc.). It just seems like you get to skip a step when you read an infographic.
But as Bryne reminds us, just like written text, there are a lot of bad infographics out there. So it is important that we learn how to read visuals just like we would any other text.
One would hope that we could educate ourselves to be able to spot the evil infographics that are being used to manipulate us, or that are being used to hide important patterns and information. Ideally, an educated consumer of infographics might develop some sort of infographic bullshit detector that would beep when told how the trickle-down economic effect justifies fracking, for example. It’s not easy, as one can be seduced relatively easily by colors, diagrams and funny writing."Should I Check my E-mail?" is my favorite infographic from the article. As a writer, I can be one heck of a procrastinator and since I'm already on my computer, there's no greater time waster (errr, I mean, important task) then checking all my email accounts (personal and professional), Facebook, YouTube suggestions that I may like, OH, and whatever cute kitten video is purring its way around the internet AND reading all the articles, newsletters, geek trivia and pictures that are in my in-box.
"Paths Through New York City"--paths that appear to be veins in a leaf leading one through an otherwise concrete world--really stunning.
So as you write your next text - take pity on your reader and create a really stunning infographic. I'm talking especially to you, science majors, don't just create some dull pie chart for your professor.
What kind of information could you visualize for your next paper?