Information design is the visual representation of data in order to help people sort and understand the data in a manageable way.
This clip for The Daily Show (view at 2:50) is a classic.
Information graphics are at the intersection of graphics, journalism and science. The goal is to efficiently communication information or trends by revealing important patterns or trends in the data. I recently stumbled on this extraordinary example, created by Kal Krause and distributed through Common Cause in the public domain. It communicates the information about the true size of Africa relative to other countries very effectively. A narrative would certainly not have the same impact or be as memorable.
There are many forms of information graphics from simple line charts and bar graphs to more sophisticated examples that incorporate time and depth of data. The work of Hans Rosling is worth viewing. He has pioneered the use of digital media for understanding data and has debunked a lot of myths along the way. Gapminder.org is his website. explore his interactive world map.
The ability to show the slides below represent a broad survey of information design typologies. Links to the live examples are below:
Geography- based data.
The following examples represent a wide range of ways we overlay or distort geographic data to tell a story.
New York Times: Disappearing Foods
Washington Post: A Neighborhood’s Evolution
SunBin: World Map Scaled by Population
New York Times: What Your Neighbors are Buying
Mapping the Measure of America
Mapping America’s 2010 Census
Line graph deception is something to keep an eye out for.
IBM Many Eyes Project: El Cerrito Crime in the Past 5 Years
Wall Street Journal: Measuring an Interactive Election
Good: Political Priorities in the US and How They Have Changed in the Past 5 Years
New York Times: The American Way of Debt
UWorld: Population Density in the Northeast
Vorneo or Treemaps
Time based examples:
Interactive Data Sets:
Pro Publica:Degrees from Hank Paulson
We feel fine
Stimulus Bill Explorer
Baby Name Wizard
New York Times: Is it Better to Buy or Rent
World Cup 2010 Schedule
Visualizing the Stanley Cup
Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
Love and Hate on Twitter
This recent video from Ted is worth watching. David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, as he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.
Assignment: Create an infographic about one aspect of your life. Think creatively about choosing a display type that is appropriate and apply lessons of typography and color to make the message clear and memorable. Before you get started please read the 7 Basic Rules for Making Charts and Graphs. Keep in mind there are a lot of ways to represent something. Take a look at these 21 ways to visualize your inbox. Here are some additional inspired examples.