28 Sep 2011

The most unnecessary of infographics...

I've seen my fair share of bad taste infographics in my time – usually perpetrated by newspapers – so I have to take my hat off today to Gulf News in Dubai for really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this humdinger.

There's so much wrong with this that it beggars belief. And the artists even put their names to it at the bottom! Thanks to Yanthe Harper for spotting it.

Infographic clichés...

People who know me would attest that I'm not a fan of the 'wall-o-pies' style infographics that are plaguing the web at the moment (in fact I wouldn't even deem them to be infographics at all). You know the sort of thing I mean – huge, tall vertical graphics that scroll downwards forever, full of stick people drawings and endless meaningless drivel statistics that just confuse, bore and turn off the reader. So it was a joy today to come across an infographic that ridicules the trend.

Congratulations to Alberto Antoniazzi for his sense of humour and to Bridget O'Donnell for tweeting the fastcodesign.com article.
October 4 update:
Just spotted this rant by Gizmodo about about crappy infographics. The tide is turning... hopefully. Click here to read it.

26 Sep 2011

Global treasure hunt...

There's what sounds like a great new treasure hunt book out this month, reminiscent of 1979's Masquerade which kick-started the whole 'armchair treasure hunt' fad (see also this Daily Mail article).

Oddly, I never really got into this one, but I do remember the family being driven absolutely bonkers for a year by 1983's Conundrum – The Cadbury Creme Egg Mystery. We had to eat heaps of the sickly sweets and send off the wrappers in order to receive a book which contained a dozen word and illustration puzzles – each one leading to its own £10,000 golden egg buried somewhere in the UK.

The latest addition to the genre, The Great Global Treasure Hunt on Google Earth, is available as two print editions or an iPad ebook – although the latter is absolutely awful and I advise you not to go near it. As the title suggests you look at cryptic illustrations and text riddles to solve puzzles that point to Google Earth locations and ultimately an overall solution and a prize of €50,000 (£43,000; US$67,000).

Today, Britain's free Metro commuter newspaper ran a half-page feature on the new book and published the first puzzle from the book's collection of 14 brain teasers. Mine is in the mail.

(click for clearer view)

17 Sep 2011

Infographics as art...

I've been invited to exhibit an information graphic at the Cardiff Design Festival next month. The exhibition at the Sho Gallery in Wales, opens on October 4, with the theme of "current trends in information visuals".

The infographic they have selected was published at the end of July last year for The Globe And Mail newspaper in Canada, and highlights the number of Canadians who live abroad. The brief was to design a page-holding image for the front of their ROB business section to accompany the main article on ex-pat entrepreneur Yong Hui Li.

9 Sep 2011

An unfortunately timely reminder...

It's sad when a portfolio graphic is on a topic as ghastly as 9/11, but sometimes they are and sometimes they become timely again and should be dusted off and aired once more.

Published August 21, 2002

I did this one for Reuters almost a year after the attack, when investigators had had a chance to decipher what had failed so terribly with the construction of the World Trade Center twin towers. I remember it being a very time-consuming graphic as I wanted to get every detail (as was known then) correct to the best of my ability.
Eleven months earlier, on September 11, 2001, I had been doing a rare light feature graphic for Reuters – most of their topics were of a more serious nature, but occasionally we were permitted to do something less hard-newsy. Mine that day had been a graphic intended to show the benefits of a new video game console that was about to launch. It was about 2pm in London and I was just starting to type-in the introductory text for the piece...

Never finished

... when our wire feed went nuts and TV screens all over the newsroom started jumping live to New York City. My graphic was immediately shelved, as was everybody else's in the studio, and we went into hyper-drive producing at first small locator maps, then more detailed maps, and finally a bigger graphic.

Published September 11, 2001

It has to be said that this is not a thing of beauty or a particularly good graphic for that matter (yes, one of the planes is hitting the wrong side of a tower), but it's what we were able to hammer out in the scant few hours after the towers collapsed. During that day, complete and utter confusion held the news media in check as the story dramatically changed for the worse every hour or so.

The next several months were spent revisiting this story over and over and over again, and it was a long, long time before light feature graphics reappeared on Reuters News Graphics Service.


Published September 16, 2001
(click on it for a higher-resolution image)

A few days after I posted this blog entry, I received a couple of messages from former-colleagues asking why I hadn't posted up the satellite image graphic I did a few days after the attack. As I was just about to go on holiday, I was unable to find it in time but now that I'm back, I've dug it out.

I got the idea after seeing a Space Imaging satellite photo of Ground Zero and it just seemed logical to overlay the flight paths and label the former locations of destroyed buildings. It proved very popular, with the Daily Mail in the UK running it almost full-page, for example.

8 Sep 2011

When a newspaper lays-off half its graphic artists and designers...

... you get page one presentations like this!

Take a look at today's The Sydney Morning Herald front page. Looks okay, I suppose. A bit dense and text-heavy perhaps. Not a lot of visual pizazz. But they do have an interesting (if pretty grim) main picture. But wait, what's with those arrows?

It looks like someone's child has 'air-brushed' (badly) an arrow in Photoshop and plonked it onto the photo a few times using their pagination software (Cyber, I think it's called). Clicking the above rag-out enlarges it to reveal how Press Display picks up the text and image boxes overlaying the image too.

It's not very slick, is it? Actually, it's laughably hideous, utterly unprofessional and rather humiliating. Unless of course I'm missing a 'graffiti redesign' announcement.

Fairfax Media, The Sydney Morning Herald's owner, recently laid-off half of the title's graphic artists and designers, with the money saved from these job cuts to be spent on new reporters.

Hmmm, right, who needs good visuals? Not Fairfax newspapers any more it would seem.

6 Sep 2011

Graphic News workshop...

The week I begin working for Graphic News will see them celebrate their 20th anniversary – on Friday, October 14, 2011. To celebrate this achievement, they are holding a workshop entitled Graphic News in Motion in London. Whether you're a subscriber to their service or not, you can attend this unique opportunity to network with your peers by visiting this website for further details (there may be a fee for non-subscribers).

The day will comprise of a workshop featuring key speakers from our industry, a networking session and evening reception.