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Infographics: Don’t Let Beauty Bite You in the Ass

May 20, 2009

I know enough about infographics to be dangerous (read: not enough). But when this NYT infographic won the prestigious Malofiej Award, I was dumbstruck. Yes, it’s beautiful in a dreamy, psychedelic-tsunami way—but as a graphic intended to clarify statistical information, this one falls short. In order to understand the graphic, you have to figure out meaning of height vs. length vs. color vs. direction. (Turns out direction–up or down–of wave has no meaning.) Plus, the colors are hideous. And who really gives a damn about box office revenues vs. “traction”? Yes, it’s elegant. But a best-in-show? No way! I have found that great infographics either cause you to think about data or evidence in a different way, or  delight you with sheer beauty. The NYTimes winner does neither of these things for me.


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