Finding new ways to present data is the challenge of the digital world. The simplification of complex concepts is an accomplishment; the utilization of myriad available media and tools allows for accomplishments undreamt of. The ability to reach an audience of unprecedented size and diversity – and to do so instantaneously – creates a highly competitive market for their attentions. Competition breeds selection until only the strongest reach the masses. Ubiquity, as ever, is the proof of fitness; elegant simplicity is the the opposable digit of the digital age; the killer app for the internet is a pie chart.

You see it at every turn. In the presentations of The Daily Show. In the posters of Pop Chart Lab. In the little infoglyphs in prescription drug commercials. In the stat-heavy image macros that bounce about Facebook by the good graces of George Takei. In the best and worst of 4chan. In the best and worst of xkcd. At worst it is cleverness without content, though enjoyable and worthy of study for the merit of being clever. But at best it is the better delivery of ideas – which may exist in a Platonic plane, but are of no use to us until they are delivered.

There is little in the world which cannot be more clearly presented to an audience, technical or lay. There are few works of human thought which could not be better given. The opaque opines of Nietzsche can be made clarion through illustration. The maxims of the deconstructionists  should always caption cats.

Doubt you for a moment that the understanding of information is more important than learning how to understand it? Think you for a minute that it is worth more to a student to be able to decipher Kiregaard’s writing than to comprehend his meaning?

I am not a graphic designer. At best I am a word designer. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that a word-designer is, at this point, arbitrarily self-limited. What is the proper comparison? A filmmaker who shoots on film? Who shoots black-and-white? Who shoots only silent movies? I am tempted to say that one might as well eschew games that don’t come with boards, or listen only to music that is made from physical instruments, or read poetry that is not the output of a genetic algorithm… but I should be afraid to alienate those people who still consider such things fascinatingly moderne when they encounter them through the eyes of Michael Doonesbury.

To ignore all the tools available to us – bugger that; all the media – is indefensible. Specialization is for insects, and we dwell amongst the Cloud.

Style, then; here’s some substance.

Here are some favorite infographics:


SIZE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM: http://www.bbc.com/future/bespoke/space_infographic

(“The World’s Longest Scale Bar”)

TYPOGRAPHY: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/alphabet-of-typography

(“The Descender Bender”)

BEER: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-very-very-many-varieties-of-beer

(“Hop to it”)

APPLE COMPUTERS: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-insanely-great-history-of-apple

(“I have owned too many of these”)

MOVIE MONSTERS: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-diabolical-diagram-of-movie-monsters


SUPER POWERS: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-illustrious-omnibus-of-superpowers-2 and http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-illustrious-omnibus-of-superpowers-1

(“If it’s on this list, it’s not a creative part of your novel”)

VIDEO GAME CONTROLLERS: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-evolution-of-video-game-controllers

(“Shit our childhoods were ubiquitous”)


…& jere are some datasets (&c) that I would like to see graphically represented.

– The association between arrests for different crimes and different other factors (race, creed, location, income)

– Anime hairdos

– Use of apostrophes/orthogonal-to-English typography in fantasy novel titles

– Wine grapes by region

– Wine soils by region

– The Twelve (+-) Scripts Of Hollywood

– Dissertation subjects, by department

– A taxonomy of drugs

– Fictional drugs

– Fictional books (by genre) (by use in their metafictions)

– Fanfic slashing by [all the variables]

– Historical trends of Veblen goods

– Prices of works of art at auction

– College endowments

– Comic book backstories

– The elements, arranged in some sort of table… wait…

– The evolution of the guitar

– Instrument X: choose an instrument and you will be shown all other instruments as they relate thereunto

– Languages. All of ’em.

– Ways to lie

– Puzzles. All the different sorts of puzzles. All of them.

– The varieties of jokes

– The varieties of religious experience (tell me this wouldn’t make a better .gif?)

– Protagonists in urban fantasy

– Primary Characteristics (the gothy one, etc.) of supporting characters in crime procedurals

– Various consumption manias (Tulips, Beanie Babies)

– Biblical names

– European royal houses (good luck!)

– Artists, arranged by drug(s) of choice (venn diagram!)

– The history of financial derivatives

– The history of the profusion of laws in a given legal system

– Wedge issues in American politics, comma, the evolution thereof

– Vocabularic diversity in bestselling novels

– Cons of America

– Sailboat types

– Interpretations of members of the Tolkien racial tree (“types of elves”) and their origin work

– Programming languages

– Poisons (particularly the complex organic chemicals found in nature)

– The Spectrum, by disorder / diagnostic criteria (or, in failing to so represent it, show its very difficulty)

– Sorting algorithms, the list thereof sorted differently thereby

– Sexual positions (what is the cave of the Kama Sutra but the ancient world yearning for 3D rendering?)

– The Tractatus

– Military rank equivalencies

– Book-bindings

– Different ways for the presentation of the written word

– &c


~ by davekov on 27 June 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: