• On low-quality infographics

    December 8, 2011  |  Design

    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.
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  • Visual Résumés

    November 10, 2011  |  Infographics

    revu timeline

    A couple of infographic résumé sites, vizualize.me and re.vu, sprouted up that use your LinkedIn data to show your career stats. Just create an account, connect it to LinkedIn, and you get some graphs that show when and where you worked. It's a visual form of your LinkedIn profile with a goal to replace the "old" and "boring" résumé that uses just text.

    Is this the best way to go though, if you're applying for a job?
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  • The Don’ts of Infographic Design

    October 19, 2011  |  Design


    Written by Amy Balliett of Killer Infographics, the post in question is basically tips for how to create linkbait that doesn't work. Or at least I hope it doesn't.
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  • Word clouds cause death… or something

    October 18, 2011  |  News

    Mean word cloud

    Jacob Harris, a New York Times senior software architect, rants about how people like to use word clouds to tell stories:

    Of course, the biggest problem with word clouds is that they are often applied to situations where textual analysis is not appropriate. One could argue that word clouds make sense when the point is to specifically analyze word usage (though I’d still suggest alternatives), but it’s ludicrous to make sense of a complex topic like the Iraq War by looking only at the words used to describe the events. Don’t confuse signifiers with what they signify.

    Harris says he dies a little inside every time he sees a word cloud presented as insight. Hopefully his computer doesn't catch a virus that permanently changes his wallpaper, screensaver, and every text document he's ever written into word clouds, or yes, he would die a little inside many times and effectively die a lot inside so much that it might show on the outside.

    Dramatics aside, I have to admit it is amusing when I get emails from people who think they have found the holy trinity of analysis, ease-of-use, and aesthetics that is Wordle. It was never intended as a serious analysis tool. Word clouds were originally made popular as a way to navigate tags for bookmarks, but other than that they're more of a toy and should be treated that way.

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