11 reasons your infographic isn’t an infographic

Ian Lurie demolishes crap infographics:

OK everyone. Take a deep, freaking breath. I can’t sneeze right now without spraying germs on someone’s attempt at a data-driven work of art.

Here’s why the poster you paid someone $400 to make isn’t an infographic:

  1. Lack of clarity. Infographics should ease and speed the consumption of information. If you take something you can express in 25 words and turn it into 1000 x 3000 pixels of eye-watering garbage, it’s not an infographic. It’s a waste of paper.
  2. Lack of data. Infographics used to communicate data. Like this. Now, apparently, I can turn a fax machine manual into a poster and get it posted to 55 different infographics directories. Retch.
  3. Low information density. An infographic is more effective than words describing the same subject. Otherwise it’s art. Which is cool and all. But it’s not an infographic.
  4. Lack of flow. An infographic should lead me from introduction to conclusion, somehow. It should help me solve or understand a problem. If it doesn’t, it’s a graphic, minus the info. This Visually piece is a great example of infographic flow.

[Etc…]

Water bear: the cockroach of microbes

Tardigrades (commonly known as water bears or moss piglets) may reach a length of 1.5 millimetres. The name water bear comes from the way they walk, reminiscent of a bear’s gait. They can be found across the world, from the highest peaks to the deepest oceans, and scientists now think they may even be able to survive interplanetary space travel:

Water bear in moss Researchers in 2007 launched anhydrobiotic adults into orbit above Earth to see if they would survive. Those animals endured naked exposure to space for 10 days, and a few even made it through an excessive dose of ultraviolet radiation while back on Earth.

Other laboratory experiments show that adult tardigrades can survive cold near absolute zero (-459 degrees Fahrenheit), heat exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit, pressures dozens of times greater than at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, and intense blasts of radiation.

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Fixing film and TV distribution

Guy English has some suggestions for Apple. If Apple aren’t working on fixing film and TV distribution, I hope someone else is working to make this vision a reality:

[…] If I watched the first season of Community via Netflix streaming and now want to rewatch it on my TV as fed from an Apple TV? Make it work. I don’t care how. If you want to pop up a dialog thats asks if you’ll charge me $4.99 to $9.99 for the privilege, I’d pay. Let me pick what I want to watch, regardless of the source, and let me watch it. I have very little allegiance to the network that funded the show — I want the content. Figure out how to make that work.

If you can’t figure out how to make that direct connection to the creatives then you’ll always be stuck with a middleman that doesn’t have to be there. If there’s a syndication avenue you can explore then do so.

Fans want to watch their shows. They’ll pay to make that happen. Everything else is mired in entrenched interests. Find a way to make that happen and we’ll all agree that Firefly jumped the shark during its seventh season.

Films and TV shows need to be apps and websites, primarily. I’m never going to buy another cable package and pay for hundreds of channels I don’t care about to get the few shows I want, with adverts, weeks or months after they have already been broadcast elsewhere.

I just want to watch my show.

Taiwanese animated news NMAtv report on Monmouthpedia

The Monmouthpedia project has been getting a lot of coverage lately, but you know they’ve made it when Next Media Animation feature them:

Monmouth is now a “Wikipedia town,” which means it’s riddled with QR codes that bring information to smartphone users with the click of a button. Monmouth, birthplace of King Henry V, is the first town to play host to project, hence the title, “Monmouthpedia.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he was excited about the project. “Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward-thinking people of Monmouth,” raved Wales.

The QR codes are printed on long-lasting plaques to ensure they’ll be around for a while. Wikipedia will be using QRpedia, a mobile Web based system that uses QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles to users. As articles can be instantly edited and updated, some believe this will be a good replacement for tour guides and maps.

Previously on Halfblog.net

Link

I like this suggestion for pinned tweets from Alex Pankratov:

The idea is to reserve the top part of my tweet stream for tweets that are promoted, or pinned, by their posters. This way if I go on a vacation and a vendor ships an update, I will still see the news when I get back:

Pinned tweet mockup

Once a pinned tweet is shown to me, it starts dropping down in my timeline as usual. Think of it as a delayed, on-demand tweet delivery.

I’d propose a variation of this idea though — perhaps pinned tweets could be generated from the tweets that people I follow are favouriting and retweeting a lot. Many people use favourites to bookmark tweets they want to follow up on, so Twitter could encourage this behaviour, perhaps by changing favourites into pins. Continue reading

Apple insecurity questions

Apple has been prompting me to add some additional security to my account for a while now, and I’ve actually put off some purchases simply to avoid answering these questions…

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The Russians used a pencil

Fisher AG-7 Space Pen

Fisher AG-7 Space Pen

“In the 1960’s NASA spent many years and millions of taxpayer dollars developing a special ‘space pen’ that uses nitrogen-pressurized ink cartridges to work in zero gravity, in a vacuum and at extreme temperatures ranging from -50 F to +400 F.

“The Russians used a pencil.”

This story keeps cropping up as an example of bureaucratic waste, or specifically as an example of what a colossal waste of money the space programme has been. It has been circulating the internet as fact since the mid ’90s, and even fictional White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry made the claim in a 2002 episode of the West Wing.

This Million Dollar Space Pen story is a pure fabrication however. The space pen was developed not by NASA, but by businessman Paul C. Fisher. It was only adopted by NASA after years of testing and the costs of developing the pen were never passed on to the US government. Furthermore, detritus from wooden pencils presented a potential hazard in microgravity, and Soviet Union would later adopt the Fisher space pen also. Continue reading

A new hyperlocal blog for Gabalfa, Cardiff

Gabalfa blog This week I created a new Cardiff hyperlocal blog for the Maendy, ‘Lower Heath’, western-edge-of-Cathays area known to the council as the ward of Gabalfa.

It’s a funny area to cover. Wikipedia says Gabalfa “is characterised by an enormous fly over road at the Gabalfa Interchange, where the A48 road meets the A470 road (North Road) which leads from Cardiff to northern Wales, and the A469 road (Caerphilly Road)”, which about sums the area up.

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Election 2012: Gabalfa, Cardiff

I’m not really very political, but I thought it would be interesting to get a bit hyperlocal and see how much of a web presence my local wannabe counsellors have. (The actual hyperlocal blog for my area — heathlands.us — seems more interested in organising a street party and setting up a pirate radio station…)

Peter Law writing in WalesOnline says about the Gabalfa lineup:

A difficult ward to call. Lib Dem incumbent Ed Bridges is well regarded and increased his share of the vote four years ago. Labour has a lot of ground to make-up, but may well snatch one of the two seats up for grabs.

Based on their engagement online, these are indeed the only two parties who seem to have any interest in this little ward. Continue reading