Archive for the ‘infographics’ Category
The Big Picture
Prezi is the kind of presentation app that could possibly make you excited about public speaking. It’s based on a shared understanding with your audience of a “big picture” and the ability to smoothly drill down and focus on details as needed, without ever losing sight of the top-line messages.
Instead of a PowerPoint deck with a series of linear, chronological slides, Prezi is essentially a giant picture. At different points, you can zoom in and zoom out and zig zag your way throughout this giant picture. The “presentation” itself is really a map, a pathway, you create through the picture.
The fluid motions as you transition from one cluster of ideas to the next makes the presentation more.. smoothly cinematic than, say, a typical series of PowerPoint animations.
This would be an awesome way to break down those large infographics that GOOD Magazine just posted to Flickr! (See their Transparencies archive.)
As you create text and images, you manipulate everything by a series of spinning discs in the top left hand corner. You basically judge a lot of things by sight, and by rotating a circle, instead of messing with numerical values. Kind of like using a mouse trackball to make things bigger and smaller.
For example, when you are typing text, there are no font sizes to choose from — only the zebra rotator tool that lets you inflate and deflate the scale, visually.
(Tangent: this use of manipulating data “by sight” reminds me of some innovative market research questionnaires I’ve seen that use visual metaphors instead of numerical values. For example, instead of asking you to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how satisfied or dissatisfied you are, it allows you — via an animated illustration — to pour liquid into a tank until it reaches a level in the container that you feel represents your level of dis/satisfaction. At the least, it makes for a fun, game-like experience while slogging through a survey.)
I can’t wait to use Prezi for… something. Hot Pot??
Please comment if you have used this tool before, and would like to share the results. (Or if you thought the narrator in the video tutorials had an amusingly familiar accent. I guessed Armenian. The company appears to be based in Budapest, but I can’t confirm.)
See a sample Prezi showcase here. Where’s your masterpiece?
Making policy public for NYC street vendors
Even in the digital age, the printed pamphlet is still a charged communication tool. Last year, for example, GOOD magazine partnered with Starbucks in a series of newsprint fold-out infographics. Each “GOOD sheet” focused on demystifying a different issue — Immigration, Gas Prices, The Economy — and were distributed at Starbucks in the final weeks of the 2008 election. NYT called it “a double macchiato with a side of debate.”
How about your next falafel pita with a side of public policy? That’s what you’re in for with Vendor Power! — a how-to business guide for NYC street vendors. This is a new project from Making Policy Public, part of The Center of Urban Pedagogy (despite its academic name, this organization’s mission is simply to “make educational projects about places and how they change”).
Vendor Power! decodes the rules and regulations for New York’s 10,000 street vendors so they can understand their rights, avoid fines, and earn an honest living. Did you know you can get a $1000 ticket for parking more than 18 inches from the curb? It doubles as a poster on the rich landscape and history of vending in the City.
– Making Policy Public
This is a great resource to explain rules and regulations about the local street vending business, which can be a very closed system and difficult to get into if you don’t have the right connections. (Unless you’re operating illegally, also addressed in the pamphlet.) A friend of mine wanted to set up a barbecue food cart near Pratt, but couldn’t get through the red tape of obtaining a license.
Also, the graphics-rich communication seems appropriate for an industry where foreign workers speak English as a language after Bengali, Spanish, or Arabic. (See the 2005 film Man Push Cart, about a Pakistani rock star who, after a fall from fame, works a street cart in New York City.)
My favorite carts:
any of the fresh fruit carts, any of the chicken and rice and mayo carts, the churros lady on the L line, and Hallo Berlin
Find your favorite cart:
2009 Vendy Awards
(limited editions x low prices) + the internet = art for everyone
That’s the formula Jen Bekman used to launch 20×200, a website that spotlights 2 new art pieces a week, priced from $20 up, according to size.
If you’re 1) an art-world outsider and 2) broke like me, shopping for art is not easy. You get your big-box retailers selling you mass market wares (Ikea, Crate and Barrel, Urban Outfitters) or you have to do a lot of hunting on your own: roaming the street markets of SoHo or paying admission to art shows to haggle for pieces.
In contrast, websites like 20×200 offer enjoyable, laid-back browsing. You get to read a little about the artist and their inspiration for the work. You can browse high-res photos of the work, and detailed information about the edition, pricing, and quantity.
It’s a great example of a traditionally offline market (the buying and selling of art) taking advantage of an online space and adjusting for how people engage with prospective purchases on the web. 20×200’s U/X design (user experience design) is spot on, as illustrated by their awesome and deceptively simple infographic for estimating print size:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Withered noggins, neural pathways
Watching this “visual essay” gave me more insight into the credit crisis than the stream of news-media chatter bombarding us the last few months. Smart animation and infographics can explain complex stuff in a short amount of time (see lifecycle of a blog post) and I get excited about what this means for the futures of education, entertainment, journalism, and just plain storytelling.
I have a strong hunch about the new visual languages but I’m not sure where it will take me. For now, I’m just enjoying the ride! So far it’s brought me to Edward Tufte’s seminars and visual thinking conferences. I’m still putting together the pieces and looking for inspiration in kindred communities. One group that should have been obvious to me from the beginning (but wasn’t) is motion graphic designers.
When motion design is paired with intelligent writing, you get a brilliant form of persuasive reasoning that sticks in the mind of many contemporary viewers.
I’m a visual guy. I need you to draw me a picture. Mr. Jarvis [creator of the credit crisis video] has done exactly that, helping my withered noggin create more lasting neural pathways to understanding and retention.
Semiotics, semantics, and other academic hacks
As an ex-English Lit major, I’d always preferred text over image. The film version is rarely better than the book. A picture is worth 1000 words, but real prose strings meaning together in narrative sequential order.
The information age is rapidly dismantling my worldview. What started as a system of linked text — HTML’s Hypertext Markup Language — is increasingly a system of signs and symbols, from icons to avatars to emoticons.
Eye-catching: some links
- Israeli-based Zlango specializes in “pic-talk”, a colorful icon-based language for web and mobile.
- Three fun webcomics: xkcd, Perry Bible Fellowship, Toothpaste for Dinner
The Story of Stuff is a quirky and effective 20-minute animation of our consumerist habits and how they affect the environment and society.