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understandingusa.jpg
as one of the (somewhat older, but still spectacular) classics of information design & infographics, Richard Saul Wurman's "Understanding USA is a celebration & a visual demonstration of question & answers leading to understanding". it is an online collection of information-rich illustrations that visually explain important phenomena inside the USA.

especially the entries of Hani Rashid & Lisa Anne Couture are visually intriguing but at the same time highly critized for their data noise & pure formalism. there was a time these 3D data sculptures could be explored & navigated in 3D (VRML), but it seems those links are unfortunately dead?

[link: understandingusa.com]

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5 COMMENTS

Justifiably "critized" I'd say. They're absurd.

Fri 29 Sep 2006 at 12:09 AM
hmmm

I have great respect for the InfoViz field, but these charts (especially in the USA Interactive section) are horribly confusing.


Is there any reason behind the curvilinear forms? Because I see no rhyme. I believe these are excellent examples of when the form interferes with function. Even annotated, the statistics are difficult to understand because each graph appears to tackle stats in multiple contexts, related _loosely_ by topic.


I may be missing the genius behind these charts, but if I studied InfoViz and I don't grok them, how accessible are they to the general public?

Fri 29 Sep 2006 at 7:54 AM

I would instead like to argue they are extremely aesthetic. what these infographics suffer in efficiency and effectiveness, they make up by intrigue. if a graph motivates people to at least wonder about concepts they were not aware of before, is that not a virtue on itself?

I guess this is similar to the purpose of art works in general?

Fri 29 Sep 2006 at 11:54 AM
infosthetics

"Intrigue?" That renders it not an infographic, but a useless but pretty piece of fluff. The whole point is *not* to compromise the presentation (i.e. efficiency and effectiveness) of the information. I think it's really lovely and unusual - I also think that it's abstruse and ineffective, if not misleading in its presentation of stats. I'd put it on my wall, but I wouldn't "present" it, as such. Intrigue and information shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but in this case, one is presented at the cost of another. I'm sure there is much better infoviz than this.

Fri 29 Sep 2006 at 2:28 PM
john

Man are these terrible! Absolutely. The information is so confused by the useless shiny shapes.

Bleh.

Mon 09 Oct 2006 at 6:57 AM
Tim
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