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– 1% of the news in infographics …

The next big thing in infographics – five criterias and a solution

datavizflame(Edit: Seems my list was provoking many people – so let me explain: This list is made after seeing 1000’s of graphics at the malofiej2010, and it is not a wishlist – merely observations.)

While searching for the next big thing in infographic techniques, I put up a short list of criteria:

  • It must be computergenerated – drawing by hand is limited to the few, who actually has the talent and can do that. Computers are for everyone, and these days we’re heralding equal access to be unique much more than we’re celebrating the truly unique.
  • It must be beautiful – right now the interest is on presentation much more than the content.
  • It has to be somewhat ambiguous. Describing things in black and white and sharp vectorlines is too fanatic. Blends are much better suited to describe a complex situation – and  much better to hide the fact, that the journalistic content might be lacking.
  • It has to be useful for datavisualization. The trend with dataviz is nowhere near its end. To be able to stay safe in front of your screen working with data, and not having to go outside to describe reality, is a luxurious situation, which unfortunately has always appealed to many infographic artists.
  • It need to work in onlinepresentations too – perhaps by moving or evolving over time.

All this could be read as if I’m unhappy with the new world of infographics. Well, I’m not unhappy at all – but I do see a lot of room for improvement. Like always.

The solution I came up with is particles in 3D-programs. The only downside to that solution is that particle-emitting and -sculpting are really tough concepts to learn. But it should be do-able – and I’ll start it right away, as missing the next thing can only be deadly for my company.

Solution pops up everywhere
The funny thing (and I’m sure it has been cognitively explained over and over again) is how, when you tune your mind into something, you start to see it pop up everywhere. This phenomenon happened to me again, just after I had made the decision to learn the particle techniques in my various 3D-programs.

Then I suddenly found myself at this website, where talented artist Peter Blaskovic shares his creations and tools. (click to visit). Especially his newest addition – the ability to paint with ‘flames’ fits right into my expectation of seeing graphics with an appearance that fits the current times.

Learn on the go by experimenting
Without spending time reading and rehearsing, I could just learn on the go by experimenting. Within minutes I created this nice piece. And a lot more, which was quickly cleared to give room for more experiments with this wonderful tool – and my kids wanted to try it too, and were able to make at least as beautiful pieces as I had done.

Only problem is the journalistic content, but I guess I could call it ‘Datavisualization of how my hand moved across my mousemat monday morning March 22nd, between 11:01 am and 11:03 am’. This sounds a lot like some of the weaker egocentric dataviz’s, I have seen lately.

Do we need to publish our mistakes
Maybe the easy access to various online-tools can give us the ability to play, learn and work at the same time. And if we start right now, maybe we will be ready when the demand for the next thing arrives, so we don’t have to name our experiments as infographics and publish our mistakes?

Challenge and competition
And so – I challenge you to visit the the flame tool and produce something you’ll be willing to share. Remember it is possible to attach images to your replies in this thread. Yes – Let’s go all the way, and get a competition running to produce the best infographic-related image with this tool. Deadline April5th – Please participate.