Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Best Infographics of 2014

Existential Calculator

Over at Brain Pickings they are featuring a few examples from the newly released, Best Infographics of 2014.
Why study infographics? Do you want to decide whether or not to take a job? Use the Existential Calculator (see graphic). "It organizes the spectrum of possible work outcomes—from pleasurable to spiritually degrading, from well-paying to debt-enhancing, from exciting to 'meh'—and shows where the reader is likely to land, based on what they tell it about the potential job.'" (Kelli Andersom)
 Some of the other graphics to linger over are the fears of a cat wandering through San Francisco (LOL, some of those fears resemble my own).

Brain Pickings' post mentions one of my favorite creators and chart busters, Edward Tufte, noting that:

"Tufte and others have long spoken to the importance of minimalism in information design. But it proved to be more important as design was translated onto the web, where attention spans are measured in seconds and the next graphic is but a mouse-click or hand-swipe away. More isn’t always better: no more in information design than in poetry, or painting, or product design. A superfluous axis on a chart, an extra dimension of information, can distract from the focal point just as much as an extraneous word in a sonnet or an unnecessary button on a tablet. It can reduce the signal-to-noise ratio and leave the viewer less well informed.
Successful examples of information design can sometimes be highly intricate, but these cases usually involve a layered approach. The most essential elements of the graphic — the most essential parts of the story — jump out immediately."
If you think about it - reading a visual can be a far easier way to take in a lot of information in an instant. Think about a graph that shows literacy percentages by state. Would you rather read through sentence after sentence of numbers, or look at a bar graph that immediately conveys the idea of which states need to do more reading.

What kind of informational graphs do you like? Can you remember a graph that made you go hmmmmm?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

National Cyber Security Month

There is a month for everything, including Cyber Security. The infographic produced by SingleHop posits some interesting myths, especially "the internet is so big no one would pick on me," and "there isn't anything worth stealing on my computer."

Oh, yeah?

The Telegraph just ran an article about this very same issue, entitled "How Hackers Took Over My Computer." A test subject asked an "ethical hacker" to see what kind of harm they could do if they were unethical. The subject stated that she had "high security" ratings on social media accounts, but here's what happened:

  • Hackers discovered the subject's personal stats (birth date and family members) via a popular online ancestry website.
  • Twitter offered up the subject's work email address.
  • Recent locations subject visited were available through Facebook
  • LinkedIn disclosed workplace data 
But why do hackers want to know this information? To get the subject to open an email from somebody she "seemed" to know.

Eventually, she was sent an email that "contained a tiny image (just one pixel by one pixel). This was the hackers' first attempt to 'fingerprint' my computer. The aim of this is to identify which operating system the computer is running, as well as which browser I was using, which browser add-ons I had, and which security software might be running on the computer."

The "ethical hacker" eventually broke in through a social media site and gained full control over her computer. Can you imagine the havoc someone could wreak if they took over your computer?

How safe do you think your info (and computer) is?

Monday, October 6, 2014

You Know You Need to Kill Your Cell Phone If . . .

So you're driving through Hollywood somewhere and spot Kirsten Dunst of Spiderman fame - what do you do?

Do you stop, jump out your car, and take a selfie? Well, that's just what happened in this short film. Think this is just a bit of exaggeration? I doubt it. But that's not the only sign that you are addicted to your cell phone.

You know you need to kill your cell phone if . . .

  • you have ever run into a pole (or any other large item) while texting.
  • you can't remember how to write with a pen or pencil anymore and find yourself just taking pictures of the notes on the board.
  • feel an event didn't happen unless you take a bazillion selfies on your phone while attending.
  • can't make it through a family meal (or any meal for that matter) without picking up your phone.
  • can feel your phone vibrating inside your pocket when it is in your purse or backpack.
  • can't handle not being able to see your cell phone 24-hours a day because it causes you mental anxiety.
  • have to have answer your cell phone while you should be sleeping OR keeping your cell phone under your pillow or on your nightstand.
  • check your cell phone before you brush your teeth in the morning.
  • incessantly check social media to see what your "friends" are doing.
  • passing one of your cell phone friends on campus (or see them in the gym) and completely ignore them.
  • and, finally, see Kirsten Dunst standing on the side of the road and instead of talking to her, insist on snapping a couple of selfies.
What other behaviors would you add to this list?