March 19, 2010

There’s a whole new field out there. OK, maybe not a new field, as such (boingboing post on 1870 census)–just a new buzz.

Like many, I’ve long been a fan of Tufte, especially the timeless and elegant Visual Display of Quantitative Information. A friend sent me a link to Ben Fry‘s site. Is it just me, or is this stuff intimidatingly cool…..

And now here are some of my favorite recent infographics:

I must admit I spent a while exploring this interactive graphic of the Federal Budget from the New York Times. From the Harvard Business Review, here’s one big-picture view of bailout and stimulus. And the head of the design firm IDEO, Tim Brown, argues for information transparency as a tool for participation in the post-crisis world.

If you really want to go to town with infographics, try something like this flickr search. And now that you’re into this cool design-meets-data stuff, here’s a great (skeptical) post from Fast Company. A quote from the piece, which takes to task a recent IBM ad featuring a baby:

“This is a baby generating data in a neonatal ward?” No. It’s a baby! The only data it’s generated so far is sitting inside that diaper.

Check out the fabulous big graphic blueprint, shown on the right.

So, my question of the week: is Tim Brown right? Is it all about getting the data out there, and accessible? Presenting it in cool ways?

Where does systems thinking fit in? How do you interact and get some insight about the structures that give rise to the behaviors depicted in the graphics?

How do infographics convey both underlying structure and the resulting behavior in ways that are useful to users?

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