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12Feb/120

What’s so sexy about infographics?

Infograph, or infographic is short for ‘information graphics’ – graphic (and often visually striking) representations of complex information, data or knowledge. An early but brilliant example of a modern-day infograph is the music video that Norwegian band Röyksopp had made in 2002 for their song Remind Me. It featured a day in the life of a woman working in London’s Square Mile, solely through the use of infographs; these included labelled close-ups of everyday objects, product lifecycles, schematic diagrams, charts, etc. and was generally illustrated in a simple isometric visual style.

In his excellent essay This Chart Is a Lonely Hunter: The Narrative Eros of the Infographic writer Reif Larsen warns against the overuse of meaningless infographics:

Despite the great pleasures of the infogasm, it is evident that now, more than ever, we must be cautious with our information design. Visuals are easy to make, but they are also easy to fake, and their allure can turn them into potentially dangerous pieces of evidence. [...] We need more excellent surveys like Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language to help us celebrate quality, shun mediocrity, and articulate the criteria for how infographics can remain luminous and profound. Beyond just disposable feel-good fodder for the Twittersphere, data visualization is the emblematic medium of our times, and the natural evolution of its form might be the greatest predictor of what is to come.

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