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The concept of visualization as a medium is great, but how far can information graphics be pushed until it falls off the cliff? The Fusion 41 Competition [fusion41.com] is a recent example of the world of advertising focusing on the visual attraction of data visualization. The competition "amassed a wealth of raw data generated from all of the teams and activities", which were then "brought to life" in poster-size infographics.

The mass of raw numbers mentioned before include things as "Most water balloon tosses lengthwise over a car in 1 minute", "Refrigerator magnets stuck to a Ford Fusion" and "Fastest time to finish a big gulp", and several others.

Your opinion?

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ford_fusion_41_2.jpg

17 COMMENTS

I love infographics, but I'm not a huge fan of this. I'm not sure that it goes "too far". If anything it looks like a designer at the mercy of a client that doesn't understand what infographics are supposed to do. (But maybe I'm giving too much credit to the designer.)

There's a few things that make this less than successful:

The labels on each graphic are redundant. If the whole chart is labeled "pounds of paper recycled", each bar doesn't need to be labeled "pounds recycled". It's just visual clutter.

There's no reason for each chart to be oriented in a different direction. The difference communicates nothing.

The speedometer graphic depicting the winners is poorly executed. IMO this information should be combined into one graphic. It isn't easy for a normal person to ingest eight different graphics and quickly or easily understand who the winner is.

The colors are too bright and too differentiated for my taste, I feel like I'm being poked in the eyes by a rainbow. Or, speaking slightly less subjectively, the colors are unnecessarily overwhelming.

That said, it was still fun information to absorb and I imagine it's never an easy task to distill this much content into visually clean, easily digestible graphics.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 2:07 AM
Talia

Ooh, bright and shiny, lots of fun angles, illegible explanatory text.

It must be great!

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 2:23 AM

Nobody reads long intro texts (I mean the one in PDF). I skip right to the graphs and they make no sense at first sight because I can't tell what those darn colours mean. Later on I realize that colours represent teams... The colour scheme and general design isn't bad for a picture you'd put far on the wall and never examine closely.

It was wrong from the start because the nature of situations and achievements describeв through graphs is funny. The whole thing was supposed to be playful and fun.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 3:00 AM

Oh, and you can't show those graphs at different angles because it distorts the real height of every single bar.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 3:02 AM

i hope there is a bit of humor behind the final visualizations ... otherwise, unless this is just about fun, i don't see how the graphics could be saying much of anything

not straight up avantgarde parody or anything here, but perhaps a tongue in cheek exercise, yes?

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 3:10 AM

-Seems very client driven.
-Wants to be hip, but ends up just being loud.
-I don't mind the orientation.
-This piece is mostly ruined by the neon colors, which evoke a childishness, which I don't think they intended.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 3:25 AM

I have nothing to do with art and information visuals. and I like watching it. I'd like to have a poster in my garage for a month or so:)

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 3:47 AM
Jim

Colorful 3D column chart tilted at odd angles with colorful guages to boot. Make head hurt.must.leave.before.head.explodes.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 5:03 AM

It would help if the information was actually compelling.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 7:12 AM
Chris

wwtd? what would tufte do? or say about it in this case?

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 10:15 AM
pt

I agree with others here. This feels a lot more like noise, than a meaningful conveyance of information.

Sat 03 Apr 2010 at 11:48 AM

first comment was spot on

visualization is a real problem in today's world of too much information

including flashy colors and orientations for presnetation's sake only feeds on that problem

the challenge in visualization is imparting meaning on incredibly complex data

imo that means designers get to know scientists and vice versa

imbed yourself, like the journalists have so aptly done in military endevours

we (datamakers/scientists) need you, even if we don't admit it

how in the hell do we convey meaning that we conceptualize in hundreds-of-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional page?

there's a whole world out there waiting to be explored

come and play with us

Sun 04 Apr 2010 at 4:42 PM
tessalea

There's no innovation in the display of this information. Nothing makes it special in terms of comprehension or aesthetics.

Completely misses.

Mon 05 Apr 2010 at 6:42 AM
Luke

Bad infographics is like complex sentences. You lose reader attention quickly.

Tue 06 Apr 2010 at 7:49 PM

What bothers me the most are the colors. Extremely bright, attention grabbing colors for the bars but grey on black for the explenation and scales. It makes it extremely difficult to understand the graphs because your eyes get distracted. The hight contrast of the colors draw your attention while the monochrome, low contrast descriptions melt into the background. Besides... I had thought that only Microsoft still thinks that 3D bar-charts are useful.

In short: The work of a designer, who thinks glowing colors are enough to bring the point across. Unfortunatly, his audience isn't composed of four-year-olds.

Fri 09 Apr 2010 at 1:25 AM
Ranjit

four year olds wouldn't give this the time of day. and rightly so.

Tue 20 Apr 2010 at 4:38 AM
daos

It's style over content, which is not good design. This is usually the halmark of most advertising.

The point of info graphics is to provide the viewer with data in which he/she can easily ingest and make certain observations. At best it tells a story and makes some form of message. If the message they were attempting was Ford likes bright colors then this is a mission accomplished. If the viewer is supposed to think, these titles are sort funny and quirky right after that then they're still on good ground. If the user is actually supposed to ascertain some greater truth thru the data presented its a complete failure.

I don't think the point of these graphics are to gain insight thru data. They're simply an advertising ploy to generate an immediate attraction to bright colors. Like a shiny toy to a child. Like everything else in advertising its taking things from modern culture out of context in order to gain interest to a brand or product.

Tue 20 Apr 2010 at 3:49 PM
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