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Picture perfect

May 11, 2012

To start things off I would just like to share my favourite example of visualisation.

Information is all around us, it can be defined as a sequence of symbols that may be interpreted as messages, signs or signals. Regardless, information is complex, wordy and can be difficult to understand.

Information graphics or infographics are essentially visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics can be used to explain complex information quickly, clearly and in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Signs, maps, journalism, technical writing and education are good examples.

Without really thinking about it, we interact with many varying forms of information graphics every day. There are no signs at busy roads or intersections telling us to “slow down, stop and go” Instead the red, green and orange colours used at the traffic lights are representative of the action that we should be doing in an easy to understand way.

Further, another simplistic example is the signs that are located on restroom doors. Instead of having text stating ‘Girls, Boys and Disabled’ bathrooms generally contain stick figures that are representative of these ideas.

Both of these examples are internationally recognised which makes the portrayed information tangible even to those that speak a different language.

The iPad image I posted above at the beginning of the text is not only a depressing reminder of how rich Bill gates is (and how poor I am) but is also a perfect example of how well information graphics work to make statistical data tangible and eye-catching.  I can tell you, that if during school every piece of quantitative data was portrayed in such a way, I would have been a much more attentive student.

Ultimately, visualisation really does give a whole new meaning to the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.



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