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Information graphics

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Musical Chairs by Alex Cornell

It can be tricky picking the right seat at a dinner party. So much depends on how many people there are and what shape the table is. Luckily, Alex Cornell provides a guide on where to sit and when to arrive to get the best seat of the night. The 4-person circle is your best bet.

This is the ideal setup. You are safe sitting in any seat. Regardless how interesting everyone is, you pretty much can’t go wrong. Note: as the diameter of the table increases, so too does the importance that you sit adjacent to someone you like.

Sorry for always sitting at the lonely end seat in the 7-person rectangle. [via kottke]

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Alberto Cairo's newly translated book on information graphics, The Functional Art, is a healthy mix of theory and how it applies in practice, and much of it comes from Cairo's own experiences designing graphics for major news publications. (I don't think Alberto remembers, but what seems like many years ago, I sat right behind him for two weeks at the New York Times when they brought him in to help illustrate Raphael Nadal's approach to tennis.)

His experience is hugely important in making the book work. There's a growing number of books on information graphics, and many are written and illustrated by people who don't have much experience displaying information, which leads to art books posing as something else. This isn't one of those books. Cairo knows what he's talking about.

As you flip through, you'll notice a lot of examples, with a focus on process and even a handful of pencil sketches. The last third of the book is interviews with those well-established in the field, which also walks you through how some graphics were made. There's a strong undertone of finding the balance between function (e.g. efficiency and accuracy) and engagement (e.g. use of circles).

Cairo comes from a journalism background, so the book is mostly in the context of presentation, but there's of course plenty that you can apply to more exploratory graphics. I would say though that Cairo's strength is in illustration and information, and so the book reflects that. This isn't a book that covers visual data analysis or statistical concepts, but it is one that explores and describes the making of high quality information graphics that lend clarity to concepts and ideas. If you're looking for the latter, The Functional Art is worth your time.

Check out the sample chapter on the publisher page, but then grab it on Amazon and save a few bucks.

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Information video designer Marco Bagni abstracted the meaning of life in his short video, Getting Lost. It doesn't show real data, placing it in the genre of Chad Hagen's nonsensical infographics, so this piece by Bagni is interesting not for the information it shows but how he used infographics as a way to express a message: "Getting lost is only way to find your own path."

[Thanks, Nigel]

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Enlarge /'s splash page lets you choose between creating a new design, or accessing previously stored works.

Let's say you want to compare the airspeed velocity of various unladen swallows. You could put that data into a spreadsheet, or present it using a graph. Chances are you'll pick the latter.

The question is, how do you create a graph that not only looks nice, but presents said data in a coherent, easy to understand way? You could go the traditional route, and make something basic in Microsoft Office or your productivity suite of choice. Or, if you have a bit more skill, you could opt for the flexibility of Adobe Illustrator instead. But perhaps you have neither software nor skill, and just want to make a simple graph or chart. takes the same approach that Tumblr took to blogging, by turning the otherwise daunting task of creating great infographics into a process that's dead-simple. You bring the raw data to, and the site's online tool can help you turn that data into a nice looking chart or full-blown infographic in minutes.  It's really that simple—assuming you have a Facebook or Twitter account required to login—though, at times, to a fault.

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Where once infographics were a bit of a niche specialism, in recent times they seemed to have gatecrashed the mainstream and you frequently see someone on Twitter drooling over the latest info-tastic offering. So it is with perfect timing Sandra Rendgen has produced a spectacular new book looking at this phenomenon – how infographics have developed, why they’re useful and how they work. There’s more than 400 examples in the book too, which proves Albert Einstein’s maxim: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” We spoke to her to find out more…

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Can't wait to get my hands on this forthcoming Taschen title, by art historian and art editor Sandra Rendgen; with graphic designer and editor Julius Wiedemann: Information Graphics. The book explores the visual communication of data, and the "massive flow of information that we must interpret in order to understand the world we live in," featuring work from masters of the profession.

From the book description: "The in-depth introductory section, illustrated with over 60 images (each accompanied by an explanatory caption), features essays by Sandra Rendgen, Paolo Ciuccarelli,Richard Saul Wurman, and Simon Rogers; looking back all the way to primitive cave paintings as a means of communication, this introductory section gives readers an excellent overview of the subject."

More than 200 projects and 400 examples of contemporary information graphics from around the world, and a nifty poster (673 x 475 mm / 26.5 x 18.7 in) by former TIME graphics director Nigel Holmes.

Do want. Amazon pre-order link (comes out March 20). More about the book, and images from inside, at

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revu timeline

A couple of infographic résumé sites, and, sprouted up that use your LinkedIn data to show your career stats. Just create an account, connect it to LinkedIn, and you get some graphs that show when and where you worked. It's a visual form of your LinkedIn profile with a goal to replace the "old" and "boring" résumé that uses just text.

Is this the best way to go though, if you're applying for a job?

Other than commissioning a couple of freelancers based on their portfolios and recommendations, I haven't had any experience hiring people, but I imagine being turned off by such an infographic résumé if I were a HR person. The visual format is easy to scan, but because it it's not a traditional text layout, I'd have to figure out what I was looking at first.

Or let's say more people start submitting these sort of résumés. Then the novelty, the main advantage, wears off and they all start to look the same.

The first infographic résumé I remember was by Michael Anderson in 2008.

There were probably others before it, but this was the first that was shared a lot across the Web. It was new and creative and worked well for the type of job Anderson was looking for. Copycats followed that were less amusing than the one before.

If you were to apply for similar jobs as Anderson with an automatically generated résumé, it'd be less impressive, because the creation was a way to show a portion of his skill set, whereas you're just pointing and clicking with these sites.

Maybe you're looking for a different sort of job. Would those employers appreciate this sort of résumé? Again, it's hard for me to say. But I imagine them appreciating a thoughtful cover letter with a CV with the most important stuff at the beginning than they would about bar graphs and humps (with a meaningless vertical axis) that show a space-hogging timeline. I'm all for visualizing things (especially bits of your life), but words can also be meaningful.

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Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. They are universally understandable, stand alone and are completely self-explanatory.
Infographics , in motion or static, will always grasp our attention with their objective way of presenting information.

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Want to make a movie but not exactly sure what to do next? The fine folks over at Canal Plus, a European film distributor, have released some posters that should be able to help. Three posters in total tell the amusing tales of How To Make A Horror Movie, How To Make An Animated Movie and How To Make An Action Movie (seen above). Each is like a maze through film production that begins with the conception of an idea, then goes through story issues,  funding, problems with pre-production, filming, editing, effects and eventually distribution. It all seems so easy with these posters. Check out these clever and cool infographics after the jump.

Big thanks to Blastr for the heads up on these images. Check them out below.

How To Make An Animated Movie
How To Make A Horror Movie
How To Make An Action Movie

Which of your three is your favorite?

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