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— urbantick

Tag "infographic"
Infographics are everywhere and a lot of development both in therms of technology and style has gone into the representation of information in the last few years. It is however an old topic and through out the past century aspects of graphics, design and technology in regards to the presentation of data and information were developed.

The Gestalt Theory (Detailed article in the German Wikipedia) was developed in the early 20s of the last century or Tufte (earlier on urbanTick) wrote his much influential books in the 80s and 90s to name two.

Image taken from the189.com / Informotion project by Bryan Ku docuemnting the final game in the 122nd edition of the Wimbeldon Championship Men’s Final between tennis giants Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. See the animated version HERE.

The reason for some more recent development in information design and especially and especially handling is connected to technological and practical changes, but also the increased availability of raw data and details to be turned into information graphics.

Often however the subject to the data is temporal or process based with need for background or lead in, change of place or frequent change of perspective. For these cases animated inforgraphics can be a great way to communicate knowledge. Besides who doesn’t like to look at motion pictures? It really fits in with the whole TV consuming sort of urban lifestyle.

Its pretty save to say, that for the first time the book Informotion: Animated Infographics by Gestalten bring together a selection of the best motion picture graphics communicating knowledge. All of the examples are very recent projects and most can be found on either vimeo or youtube of course. However the interesting bit on the book is the context the examples are being put in. The editors Tim Finke and Sebastian Manger put great emphasis on contextual details in a wider sense. Where publications like the recent Taschen Infographics are a mere selection of great examples the Informotion book includes the theoretical and practical aspects too.

This of course makes the book heavier to read, it’s also but not only to look at, but you get a lot more out of it for your practice. Besides inspiration the book provides a refresh and update on the graphic, visual and design theories as well as the technical details of animation production such as software, storyboards or size, resolution or format.

Image taken from binalogue.com / Images showing the page spread design. The example shown here is an animated infographic by binalogue showing the CANAL Isabel II water cycle. See video below for the original animation.

There is also one of the aNCL (animated New City Landscape) informmotion graphics included as anexample in the book (p.188-189). It is the animation produced in collaboration between urbanTick and Anders Johansson on the Twitter landscape in the area arond the city of Zuerich in Switzerland. The original post on the animation can be found here, the animation is below.

Of course there is something awkward about a printed book about animated examples. However the content lives up to the expectations and whilst the animations can not be shown in the book the story can still be told. Even more so that the examples are discussed in detail and help to illustrate the theoretical elements of the book. In this sense there is literally more to the book than just the pictures and lines of text there is actual information in there plus Gestalten have a website where readers can get additional info and links to the animations. The list of examples can be found HERE.

Image taken from Gestalten / Book cover.

Finke, T. & Manger, S. eds., 2012. Informotion: Animated Infographics, Berlin: Gestalten.

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Information graphics are the subject to a brand new Taschen publication Information Graphics that is bringing complicated data made understandable through brilliant designs to a strong coffee table near you. The book is colourful with strong visual guidance, large, very large and heavy, some 480 pages heavy. As this outline shows, its a bold publication that doesn’t hide behind all the various examples of graphic design, but provides a tasteful framework to showcase the many awesome examples of data narratives.

Cover Information Graphics
Image taken from aestheticsofjoy by Stephanie Posavec / Writing without words exploring possibilities to visually represent text.

Of course info graphics are currently trending and one of the most talked and specially passed around topic, not only online but more recently also in the media. All the large media houses have a special information design group and the publication showcases a number of these examples. In this context the book is not the first such collection of good designed information, but certainly one of the boldest in a positive sense.

The publication is edited by Julius Wiedemann und features contributions by Sandra Rendgen, Richard Saul Wurman, Simon Rogers from the Guardian Data Blog and Paolo Ciuccarelli. This is a very interesting team Taschen has put together for this publication with, whilst still being information specialists, covering a broad spectrum of perspectives and expertise.

NYT Historic Shift
NYT Historic Shift
Image taken from dynamicdiagrams by NYT / Interactive visualisation showing the changes in election results over the period 2006-2010. Find the interactive version at NYT

Where other publications, for examples Data Flow by Gestalten, Otto Neurat by NAi or indeed Edward Tufte focus on the context of the graphics, the theoretical background of narrating information as well as the actual teaching of how to present information the Taschen publication is a showcase. It is foremost about showing great examples from a variety of sources on how to visualise data sets graphically in mainly 2D. There are a few web based, animated or interactive examples too though. This takes into account that complexity showing in these graphics is continually rising.

Husevaag Escape Routes Husevaag Escape Routes
Image by Torgeir Husevaag / Escape Routes, 2010-2011. A series of drawing studying possibilities of spatial movement under given time constraints. On the left the map and on the right a detail of some of the blue shaded location sixth path details

Showcasing such a large collection of examples is tricky in that the ordering system as to how the examples are organised becomes very prominent and therefore important. Here the editor has decided to go with a very low number of groups to arrange the info graphics. Where other publications make an exercise out of inventing a whole new system to clarify and characterise the examples this one takes the simple approach. This both refreshingly straight forward and annoyingly rough. What do the chosen terms Location, Time, Category and Hierarchy actually describe, or more importantly how are they distinguished?

The questions remain unanswered however, this does not stand in the way to enjoy the great quality and variety this collection shows. Its a book to brows, jump and flip, a publication you will keep in reach for a long time and always go back to to enjoy or indeed recharge your design batteries.

Cover Information Graphics
Image by Taschen / Book cover Information Graphics.

Rendgen, S., 2012. Information Graphics J. Wiedemann, ed., Köln: Taschen GmbH.

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Eduard Tufte is one of the key theorist on visualisation design and graphics communication. His books have sold extremely well and his concepts have been picked up by a lot of influential designers. He is quoted frequently in writings and has very large follower basis.

Even though his books, six there are published by his own publisher Graphic Press, are already published for more than a decade, in fact his first important book, The Visual Display of Information was first published in 1983. All of the publications are by now into their second edition and still selling strong at a retail price of above $40.00.

The New York Times called him The Minister of Information, to name but one example of titles he was given. Tufte lectures around the world always drawing a large crowd.

Tufte started teaching at Princeton together with the renown statistician John Tukey where the foundations for the first book The Visual Display of Information was developed. The second edition of this publication (2001) is then also dedicated to the memory of Turkey.

This first book on graphics and information design was an instant success and transformed Tufte from his political science background into an information visualisation expert. With the publications that followed he sticked with this new field of his and extended on a number of concepts in the field of visualisation of quantitative information.

Two qualities of Tufte’s book are standing in the foreground. For one there is the quality of the publication design and there is the beauty of the numerous examples drawn from across the centuries. In combination, together with a solid argument and visionary, but detailed observations it creates a extremely powerful statement which is pure joy to read.

Even thought he publications are of some age, they currently live through a revival, in the context of the current data visualisation hype. With these wast depositories of quantitative information accessible the chalenges of visualisation are still as present as ever and often the readability and the presentation is compromised.

Time Series of Exports and Imports, Playfair
Image taken from Businessweek / An examples of the use of Tuftes Sparklines intended to be in text graphs summarising the development of time as extensions to textual or numerical descriptions.

In his first book The Visual Display of Information Tufte (1983) sets out to develop a language to discuss graphics and a practical theory of data graphics. As Tufte puts it in his foreword to the publication: “At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning about quantitative information.” He mainly bases his explanations on the comparison and the discussion of examples. Very didactically Tufte relays predominantly in his descriptions on “this is not very good! It could be improved in this way!”

In this sense the first part of the book is focusing on the history, as Tufte puts it, the recent history, of graphicsal representation of information since the 18th century. Tufte refers to William Playfair (1759-1823) as the main inventor of a theory and practice of information graphics.

Time Series of Exports and Imports, Playfair
Image taken from Wikipedia / William Playfair’s Time Series of Exports and Imports of Denmark and Norway

In the conclusion to the book, the chapter 9. Aesthetics and Technique in Data Graphical Design Tufte brings together the observations made through out the book and makes suggestions for design decisions in regards to the graphical representation of quantitative data. It is simple things Tufte picks up here, like line with, chart size and orientation or shading, but those are the main tools of communication and what generally is overlooked.

It is only in his second book Envisioning Information that Tufte (1990) opens the discussion to include more aspects of graphical representation, sort of departing from the initial focus on quantitative data, math and statistics. In this publication Tufte incorporates much more and this is well reflected in the content that reads: Escaping Flatland, Micro/Macro Readings, Layering and Separation, Small Multiples, Colour and Information, Narratives of Space and Time. Here Tufte incorporates the visualisation and style of maps, train time tables and information signs.

It is in this book that Tufte actually discusses the impact of the design and the potential as it is evoked through good choice and specific planning. Where the first book ends, with practical suggestions, this area is extended in this second publication into a whole book really. And it is in these chapters, as listed previously, the reader finds the evidence and the presentation of again comparative examples leading the discussion.

In many ways these two books come as one and it does make sense to read them in sequence and still each book has its perfect identity. For even if your not into the practice of graphical representation of either quantitative data or any information at all it is great joy to look through the books and admire the perfect layout along with the stunning collection of examples each surprisingly comprehensive and integrative with the developing discussion of the book.

Envisioning Information: Narratives of Space and Time

Tufte, Eduard R., 2009. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Second Edition., Cheshire, Co: Graphic Press.
Tufte, Edward R, 1990. Envisioning Information, Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press.

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The professional version of facebook has now als reached the 100 million user mark and is still growing. LinkedIN the social networking platform for the professional world has published at the beginning of March 2011 their growth in numbers to make a good impression. Founded in 2003 in Santa Monica, California by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant, the platform has grown to be worth almost $ 3 billion and makes a revenue of over $ 160 million, this is up over 200% from the previous year 2009 at just over $ 80 million.

It was a niche market back the and probably still is. But once your big things settle and a niche can be good business. The main asset linkedIN really has is the content. All these details of businesses, jobs and positions as well as the real people behind it. They say that 73 of the Forbes 100 best companies are using linkedIN hiring systems. This means that the platform hosts a massive amount of details and hors unimaginable stock of knowledge on the worlds markets. These days knowing about the business connections is worth more than actually making business.

Regarding the numbers, there is one more number of the financial sector that is probably interesting. LinkedIN earns about $160 million, but its expenses are almost $150 million. It’s actually expensive to know all these details. Presumably most of the cost goes into infrastructure.

In terms of the demographics, LinkedIN hosts over 58% male profiles and only about 42% female profiles. The main user group is between 25 and 50 years old, but the group of 18-25 year olds are also quite keen on the service with over 20%.

In terms of geographical distribution, as you would expect North America is LinkedIN homeland. with about 48% of all the users. The classic blindspots on the map are Africa, South America (except Brasil and Argentina), the Middle East and the Far East (except India). In terms of geographical gender distribution North America is doing better in terms of equality than every body else with 45% f and 55% m, where the Middle East with 23% f and 77% m is the most unbalanced market. However this is presumably not taking the numbers of users into account.

Through out the network the larger companies, over 1000 employees, are the most common. Also Smaller businesses tend to like the service, where medium sized businesses seem to be not that interested. As you would expect the leading branches are hightech 16% and finances 13% with agriculture covering the end with only about 0.4%. In terms of the job function academics are floating towards the top with around 10%, only the sales department is larger with 13%.

Interesting are aso the facts around the use and growth numbers. In terms of time of the day apparently there is a very high after lunch peak over all. During lunch and after lunch really seems to be the time web users find time for the sneaky break to check their social networking status, read a few blos and apply for a better job on inked in. The graph below also incudes the mobile user times and interestingly they mainly access the service after work and in the evening. However I imagine the graph to be slightly out of scale, the mobile users would be a lot smaller in numbers than the actual web users, but never mind. So if you really want this job you better apply before lunch.

linkedIN 2011
Image taken from mashable.com / The linkedIN network by numbers compiled by xxxxx on 2011-03-22.

Via zioigor

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