This has been sitting in my drafts folder for a few months. Figured I’d just hit publish and throw it out there.
Obvious statement: there are infographics that are horribly made. Some are way too big for the information conveyed and others are useless because the creator had no idea what he was doing. Some infographics are both. Here’s the thing though. There’s plenty of suck of everything online, and yet somehow we manage to find the good resources, applications, and sources of endless entertainment.
A couple of years ago, infographics spiked and even what seems like subpar work now, passed as amusing at the least. It’s like the time on the Web when it was pure awesome to have a site decked out with animated GIFs, blinking backgrounds, and delightful MIDIs that were a treat for the ears. Sites like this still exist — some just as an archive of the past and others by someone learning HTML with a book they checked out from the library — but you’d never mistake one of those sites as an example of great Web or interaction design.
Or how about blogs? It’s as easy as ever to start one and you can write whatever you want. Some are bad and others are good. That’s how it works when people make things.
Think of infographics/visualization/etc as a medium instead of a method and it should be much easier to unruffle your feathers. There are textbooks and there are novels. There are documentaries and there are slapstick comedies.
So I don’t think a flood of low-quality infographics is going to obscure the work that is actually worth looking at. If anything, it’s going to be easier to find the standouts.
I’ve seen this through my inbox already. Readers used to send me a lot of work that well, wasn’t the best, but they thought it was interesting. That doesn’t happen so much anymore though, because I think we’ve learned what was made as commercial linkbait and what deserves our attention. Sometimes they are one and the same, which is fine by me. Even if a piece looks beginner, it’s easy to tell when a person is interested in the data or is eager to learn how to make things. I’m all for that and am more than happy to offer my two cents when someone asks me. After all, I’m still learning, too and I’ll be producing plenty of schtuff in the process.
People can (or will learn to) spot the B.S., and the bad stuff doesn’t get shared and doesn’t spread.
When the low-quality infographics stop is when we should be most concerned. It means people have lost interest. That’s not going to happen any time soon though.