Bad Infographics Returns

We’ve devoted many of the posts on this blog to infographics that we love. Beautiful, glorious swoops of colour and structure that visualise data in a picture-perfect medium.

But in the shadows, out there on the internet, and indeed in everyday life, lurk the bad boys of the infographic world. Unclear. Illegible. Awful. It’s enough to make you open up Photoshop and set about creating one yourself.

We found this first one over at boingboing.net. The perpetrator? Ikea.

Plaudits must go to Ikea for their infographically-styled attempt to inform shoppers when’s best to shop, but perhaps they’d best stick to selling forests of wooden furniture at wallet-friendly prices. Pie charts are the black sheep of the infographic family, especially when not even in 3-D. Ikea is a temple to affordable, inspirational design – couldn’t they have extended this to their infographics too?

We found this bad boy lurking on Usability Counts, as a competitor for the Most Ugly and Useless Infographic Competition (I hope my Haribo infographic doesn’t appear there next year!

A prize to anyone who can guess what this actually means?

Vizworld found this monster infographic – a supposed look at mobile media around the world. I wouldn’t know. I can’t even look at it. Pie charts have multiplied into circular hell. There’s tiny text. Apart from the title, there’s nothing clear about it.

Has anyone else seen any truly hideous infographics out there? Let us know here or on Twitter @Infographics D

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Create your own InfoMap!

I have always looked in wonder at those clever coloured maps in the Guardian, where they give each country a different colour according to population, economy, birth rate or any other variable.

But could I produce something like it myself?

Using TargetMap.com, I managed to produce this map showing the 2010 GDP of all the countries in the world (indicated by colour), as well as the economic growth rate achieved last year (indicated by the size of the dots on each country).

  

To do this, I used google to search for GDP stats (advanced search techniques allow you to specify an Excel spreadsheet). The file can be found here. I removed unnecessary data from previous years, then uploaded this spreadsheet into targetmap.com.

TargetMap.com did the complicated bit – it coloured each country a different shade according to which GDP band it fell into. It also added the dots – different sizes according to growth rates. (To view the interactive map online, click here).

Overall, am happy with my first attempt at creating an InfoMap. Although the Guardian infographics team still manages to make prettier maps than I ever will, at least we know there’s a user-friendly, online tool out there to help us produce our own InfoMaps.

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Infographics Newsletters

We’ve come a long way with our journey into the gorgeous world of infographics. Then, we didn’t understand them. Now, we can’t get enough of them! While “love” is probably too strong a word to be bandied around, we’re committed to infographics. We want to have “the talk” with them. We want to see them on a daily basis.

Lucky for us Dummies that there’s some kindly souls out there who are dedicated to creating daily newsletters. These bring together the very best of infographics out on the web into bite sized, digestible reading. Forget the Daily Mail’s TV and Showbiz pages – if you’re infatuated with infographics, your homepage should be set to one of these.

1) Daily Infographic

The brainchild of Jay Willingham, this daily newsletter deposits an infographic a day in your inbox if you subscribe by email or by RSS feed. It’s like taking vitamins, but better.

The Dummies took to Twitter to ask Willingham what drove him to create a daily newsletter. His response? “Felt like there was an untapped market for daily infographic distribution. Always been big fans of data visualization”.

The site also has a handy category page so you can select a certain infographic field that you’re interested in, from “Animals“, to “Government” to “Mindblowing“.

I particularly like this one from the Pets section looking at the history of LOLcats, that internet phenomenon. Why? Because as well as being interesting to look at, the infographic also includes the “lol” speak of the LOLcats as it pads its way through the entertaining timeline.

I also like pets.

The History of Lolcats from http://www.imgzlla.com/lolcats

2) The #infographics Daily

We like this daily round up a lot – possibly because it’s featured not one but TWO of our blog posts over the last few months. Unfortunaetly, I can’t link to it because it changes content every day, fuelled by the infographics that people have been sharing on Twitter.

I love the clean design of it and it’s oh-so easy to scroll through and select a category, whether Arts or Photos. The headline at the points plots the countdown to the next refresh of information and also informs you of how many people have shared the certain links on Twitter.

Screenshot of The #infographics Daily

The best way to search for The #infographics Daily is to follow its creator, Gabriele Cazzulini, on Twitter and await his frequent updates. It’s worth it. I promise.

3) The Daily Infographic
I know, all these sites have super-original names, don’t they? But as with any long-term relationship, it should be what’s inside that counts.

They also have a handy guide to just why infographics are so great:

Why Infographics
Are Irresistible

  • They look good up close and far away
  • They have fun and interesting facts
  • They are colorful
  • They are artistic
  • They are everywhere

It’s very American-centric in content, but still interesting – such as this infographic on words that are transphobic, an under-developed subject area that is fast progressing.

Copyright Clinton Andor

 

Where do YOU head for your daily dose of infographics? Let us know by commenting or on Twitter @InfographicsD

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TUC Anti-Cuts March

As you will have seen and read, the peaceful anti-cuts protest that took place in London over the weekend descended into what is now becoming expected: violence, thuggery and vandalism.

What is perhaps more controversial than the actions of a few though, is that fact that Labour leader Ed Miliband chose to support the march (the party – and Ed himself – has a long-standing link with the unions). If he had known how the protest would pan out – and he surely must have predicted similar scenes to last year’s student protests – why would he create such a connection in people’s minds?

Regardless of motive, the point is he did give a speech endorsing the march and criticising the Coalition, and more specifically David Cameron. Here’s a Wordle I created of his speech.

Wordle: Ed Miliband Speech 26/3/11

As you can see, ‘people’, ‘Britain’ and ‘country’ feature prominently, which re-inforces the rhetoric used by Miliband in his speech. He also seems to indicate that our ‘generation’ needs to make a ‘stand’ and ‘speak’ out against the ‘change’ in ‘society’ ‘today’.

In picking out the key themes of Miliband’s speech, I’m led to conclude that, sometimes, an infographic does all the hard work for you.

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let there be light.

Huzzah! The clocks go forward today, officially marking the beginning of what we hope will be a lovely summer, resplendent with balmy evenings and much Pimms.

Daylight Saving Time may deprive us of an hours sleep but the long-term effect on health is much debated. There a great many who believe the longer the days, the less depression, lethargy and health complications we will suffer as a nation.

To illustrate all this, here is a nice infographic courtesy of http://en.rian.ru/

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Left, right, left, right…

Scouring the net for infographics the same way others look for porn, I suddenly stumbled upon this infographic (from infographicsblog.com) that sent my heart racing. It’s a breakdown of the political left and right in the US, together with key voting patterns and trends.

It’s quite complicated to look at to begin with, but with a bit of time, you can gather much about the key differences between the typical left-winger and right-winger in the US.

Of course, when breaking down a nation into two poles, you do end up with a stereotypical leftist and stereotypical rightist in the US (the idea that the relationship between mother and child is based on “respect and fear” for Republicans and “respect and trust” for Democrats is perhaps a little simplified), but in general the infographic is still a good indication of the key political opinions in the US and the voting patterns and beliefs of people on both sides.

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Budget 2011 as a Wordle

A while back I posted an article about the beauty of wordles and how they are useful in dissecting data that is mostly word-based.

Following my recent attempt to create a bubble chart, I decided to try and create a wordle based on George Osbourne’s 2011 Budget speech. This was done very simply at wordle.net, where you simply drop in the text and the process is done for you. Below is the result:

The key words are pretty standard: “tax”, “billion”, “year”, “budget”, “spending”, etc.

Other words include “deficit” and “reduce” – quite indicative of this government’s priorities. Other key words on a similar theme include “responsibility” and “recovery”.

The important thing in any wordle is to exclude words which appear often in speech such as “the”, or words which have little meaning. In my wordle, the words “Mr”, “Deputy” and “Speaker” are among the most prevalent – showing I should have filtered the text before creating the wordle. Still, a lesson for next time!

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