Beyond just data and words, infographics use images and graphical representations. These key elements – data, words and imagery – operate as a system for simplifying information, revealing new patterns, and producing new knowledge. Though they might not have always been called “infographics,” info/data-based visualizations have always been around. With rapid advances in both technology and the speed at which we consume information, infographics have become an effective way to grab audience attention and deliver complex information in digestible formats.
Craig Adams, the editor of the book, came up with the initial idea of narrating history through infographics. James Ball, data journalist for the Guardian, and I joined forces to bring Craig’s idea to life. The Infographic History of the World is our attempt to narrate history in an unconventional way. Rather than looking to define the world’s history, this book looks to leverage the power of infographics and refresh an age-old subject for the general public and the specialist alike.
Instead of simply celebrating infographics on a stand-alone basis, we hope to take our readers on a journey through history. If we convert our audience from passive readers of a single story into fellow travellers, they can explore data and use the visualizations as starting points for their own exploration and understanding.
Since our earliest times, humans have attempted to interpret and describe the world around us – past, present and future. Embracing the picture-worth-a-thousand-words perspective, people continue to use visual metaphors to share their ideas with others. Visual media have consistently played an important role in supporting, communicating and delivering innovation.
Visual media bear a responsibility to simplify complexity and record discoveries. Yet, they also have the potential to become the fabric by which we can discern new meaning and share new knowledge. In some cases, there are existing relationships that are only revealed once the raw data has taken a visual form.
With the social data revolution and the rise of big data, we should expect to see increasing prevalence of data visualization through media. As growing amounts of data become increasingly available, there will be a need to understand what is being recorded. Visual media is a likely leader in making this information accessible in a swifter and smarter way.
While infographics have been around for ages, recent proliferation of free and easy-to-use tools makes visual media more accessible to a large segment of the population. Demand for the communication of data-based information is evolving in tandem with advances in technology. Visual media has the opportunity to communicate ideas quickly and effectively. With the increased use of interactive media and new technology platforms, I expect the use of visual media will increase across disciplines.
Valentina will speak at How Visual Media Helps Us Make Sense at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on the future of funding new ventures. Learn more about Technoport 2014.
Image credit: Valentina D’Efilippo