Thursday, 18 September 2014

Infographics v. information



The Scottish government’s arguments for independence are presented in documents and a web presence that are well-crafted, but they fall into the marketing trap of thinking that graphically presented information needs to be cute and charmingly retro rather than genuinely present a statistical argument. The work of Isotype shows us that social information can be both central for the exercise of democratic choice and also present complex data interactions clearly. And the current myth-busting How well do you know your area site is a great example of offering the public statistics that challenge assumptions about the profile of local society. So why does Alex Salmond’s team rely of the factoid approach? The people of Scotland deserve better graphic design than this.

 ¶ In the example above we see bald statements of numbers: no comparisons, no indications of whether these are steady states or moving targets (proportion under 15), and blatant disregard of whether the ‘statistic’ is a current fact (5 universities in the top 200) or an assumption (Scotland might be the 29th member of the EU). Is that figure of 83% of Scots with a Scottish national identity higher or lower than the equivalent espousal of identity by citizens of Catalonia or Bali? Are the 20% and 83% identity reporters nearly mutually exclusive or is one a subset of the other? And so on.

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