Heading into 2011

Being the first day of a new year and being responsible for a blog I thought I should reflect briefly on last year and how that might shape this new year’s work.

The fact that an hour long programme on stats was broadcast recently sums up my main observation that 2010 was all about the popularisation of data, statistics and the visualisation thereof. I can’t deny the benefits this brings, of interesting opportunities and wider awareness of the industry.

But for every good visualisation there has also been an exponentially increasing number of bad ones. This visual infostuff blurs people’s perception of what an infographic is, does, is good for.

So, from my point of view, I’m very happy to have my blog in place so I can continue, in 2011, to identify and surface the graphics – be they big or small – which demonstrate the qualities of being clear, relevant, engaging, useful, original, elegant.

Notable from the two examples I just flagged up is that they both feature the word ‘human’. As infographics become more ubiquitous this is a quality which will distinguish the good ones from the overly complex ones of old.

And storytelling. Finding a story and then telling it has become another defining feature of the graphics that rise above the cacophony of all that other visual infostuff out there.

Finally, in this data driven world, I’d like to state clearly here that infographics don’t have to involve numbers. It’s not a prerequisite. They are also good for making comparisons and illustrating relationships, informing and explaining, or a glorious combination of any of the aforementioned, not to forget the elements of learning or discovery that interaction can add.

And I note that all my examples are fairly old – I’d like to feature more recent ones, but I’m struggling to find anything that’s not data driven. That’s a gap that I really hope 2011 will plug.