Competent with media

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

It’s the school’s fault. They say so. But not here: most information designers create junk charts when using areas. In 7th grade kids learn how it is right and wrong. It makes them competent with media.

Flächengrafiken in der 7. Klasse
Lambacher Schweizer: Mathematik für Gymnasien 7, p. 122. (click for translation)

Teachers have their book with solutions. On page 81 it says:

left: essentially a column chart – one car symbol represents 10,000 cars; reasonable
right: length and height increase by 66 %; perception is distorted, because the area is doubled

Now, I wish more competent media to all kids competent with media.

Geo Deco

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Another fashion among information designers: geo-graphs without geo-info. Since I am a European Union dog, I know where Great Britain and Spain are. I sniff around for geographical relationships. More Diesel in the North? More in the South? Any regional influence? Something striking in German speaking countries? Or French? More mountains = more Diesel? More winter = less Diesel?

No, nothing.

New car registrations in Europe – 53.6 % of the 14.8 million new car registrations in Western Europe have been equipped with Diesel engines (2007). Largest Diesel market is Germany.

Note! The most noble purpose of a graphic: Show a (presumed) causal relationship. You use a map? Then your reader believes you think of a geographical issue.

My antidote to deco-geo as always: a pretty table, good to read, sortable, no problems with labeling, no Fizzel-Fazzel, no legend, no decoding. Wonderful.

Source: Graphic ams, 14/2008, p. 66

Design d’Azure

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Bella at the Cote d’Azure

Labradores like me like to swim. Can be analytically refreshing, too. On that small islet I met two french school girls. They discussed Saturn and the Earth. How large and how small. One of them hinted to a circular pattern on the floor of the islet. “The large circle, that is Saturn”, she started, “the small one is the Earth, how tiny in comparison.” Very clever those two girls. Much more than many information designers.

Sandimage of Saturn and Earth

Back at the beach I drew that for him in the sand. Than he got it, too.

Good information designers are deaf

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Dogs hear quite well. Sometimes they read minds. Some designers think: “What boring numbers. It’s nothing to write home about.” Others believe: “If there is nothing to illustrate, what am I a designer for?” Information designers don’t listen to that. They are deaf when it comes to graphical rubbish, fashionable fuss and decoration. In case the numbers are boring they look for better ones. If there are none, boredom is the message. Not everything is a scandal, a mess or noteworthy. Brilliant information design is apparent in the terrific work of Megan Jaegerman.

An example: next time


The European Union’s Graph Summit

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

The recent European Union’s summit was exhausting. Not just for politicians but also for information designers. Comparing two measurements is (in some cases) already tempting. Three is even harder. In the discussion about weighing of votes among members of the European Union it’s even been five: population, distribution of votes in the treaty of Nice, in the proposal for a European constitution and in the Polish proposal based on a square root model and finally the number of members in the European Union. The German newspaper “Die Welt” as well as the “FAZ” use graphic tables, the regional paper “Nürnberger Nachrichten” a business chart.

Die Welt FAZ Nürnberger Nachrichten

Die Welt is acceptable. However, the light green for the Polish model is hard to read.

The FAZ uses an iterating background. Needless and annoying. Really bad is the label for the Polish model. The lines in the label dominate the bars. The eye compares the lines’ lengths although these have no meaning.

The idea of the Nürnberger Nachrichten is o.k.: you easily distinguish the three distributions. But color is a catastrophe. The bars are flickering before my eyes. That it’s also the color of the German flag is odd. All explicit values are missing and the smaller countries are missing, too.

An alternative is to look at the deviations compared to the current regulation:

Deviations of proposals for weighing of votes compared to the current EU treaty of Nice