Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Problem With Infographics...

In today's digital media world, the infographic has seen a rise in popularity. Easy to produce and share with the world they can impart information in an easily digestible manner. A quick glance can give you the required data and knowledge needed to either make a decision or find an answer. For the TV News, a good infographic can inform the public in a quick and timely fashion.


All it takes is one little piece of misleading information, a word or symbol that confuses the reader. Take for example, the infographic below, sent to me by my good friend and journalist Tom Hepworth. It invites you to find out whether you are the rock singer, Meatloaf.

I had no idea that i could indeed be Meatloaf, i certainly don't remember much of the rock and roll lifestyle if i were him, or where all my money went. My point is that even a simple infographic like this can lead to a world of confusion because of one word... 'That'.

Does anybody know what 'That' is...? If i was Meatloaf, i would surely know what 'that' is, in which case, i have no need for the infographic. But it asks me if i am Meatloaf... Am i...? Let us find out. Would i do anything for love...? Well yes, of course i would, most people would do anything for love wouldn't they...? So i answer 'yes'.

Infographics... Confusing.

Now, here comes the sticking point. It asks me if would even do 'That'. Now, not knowing whether i am Meatloaf, i don't know what 'That' is... With me so far...? You see, Meatloaf would know what 'that' is, in which case, follow the arrows and bingo... You are indeed Meatloaf. But the infographic is asking me if i am Meatloaf right...? And yes, i would do anything for love but, i don't know what 'that' is... and whether i would do it or not.

'That' could be anything. It could be something that gets you arrested, laughed at, scorned in public, or banished from your local community. I am not going to admit that i would do 'that' without knowing what 'that' is... You see...? No...? Exactly. I can only get through half of the infographic and i get stuck. And i still don't know whether i am Meatloaf or not.

Look... quite obviously, i am not Meatloaf. My Missus tells me that i do not go like a bat out of hell and i can't ever remember seeing paradise by the dashboard light. But i cannot follow the no arrow on the infographic because i would do anything for love... so i am forced to go down the route of admitting to doing... 'That'. Hence the confusion problem.

So... infographic producers, please think through the questions before sharing your infographic with the world. As for me, i'm going to lie down in the dark somewhere with a stiff drink until the confusion passes, and try to figure out with my over stimulated imagination, just what 'That' could possibly be... the results could be astonishing.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.