A Word, or Two, About Infographics (Data Visualizations Too)
Okay, I love infographics, otherwise known as information graphics and its close cousin, data visualizations. An infographic is a graphic visual representation of data or information. A data visualization is a visual representation of data (not necessarily graphical). When done well, either can crystallize a thought or idea that might take a number of textual paragraphs to explain. In other words, a picture (graphical or otherwise) is sometimes worth a thousand words.
But be careful that the “picture” does not misrepresent the words behind it. For example, an infographic on censorship seems to indicate that the U.S. and Canada has more censorship than Russia and Australia. Of course, that all depends on your definition of censorship.
In this case, censorship also includes child pornography and illegal file sharing which is why the U.S. received its score of “some censorship.” So when you look at an infographic, it is just as important to understand the definitions driving the visual picture. Yes, you still need some words! That being said, here is a list of some of my favorite infographic and data visualization sites:
- Cool Infographics. Randy Krum highlights some of the most interesting infographics around and I especially like to read the descriptive commentary.
- Fast Company’s Infographic of the Day. Always funs and entertaining and sometimes thought provoking and equal parts amazing and sad. If you have not already, watch the infographic video on Japan’s earthquake and its ripple effect throughout the Pacific.
- Visual Complexity. Complex networks (such as biology, social networks, or the web) made visual. Each infographic includes a description of how it came to be. One of my favorites from this site is the Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names.
- Chart Porn. Otherwise known as “data visualizations you just gotta love.” One of my favorites: Books Everyone Should Read. (I suspect it’s because To Kill a Mockingbird—my absolute favorite—is “the” book everyone should read!)
- FlowingData. A great archive of data visualizations and infographics. My favorite archive: 27 Visualizations and Infographics to Understand the Financial Crisis.
And finally, in honor of March Madness, take a look at the March Madness Bracketology winners from 1985 through 2010. Happy Hoops!