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Monday, April 04, 2011

Too Much Information

Ok so this goes back to earlier blogs about bombardment of information in the 21st century. everyday we see posters, billboards, product design, information graphics, semiotics, ect. Our eyes take in about a billion pieces of information per second and only a very minute percentage of that actually gets processed and used, data becomes lost in translation. By visualising information in an attractive way, we become far more able to engage with it. Stimulating our brains using colour or easily recognisable shapes we are able to differentiate between each piece of information and also connect similarities to create patterns thus understanding underlying issues such as government spending. 

Shown here is David McCandless  - Information is Beautiful - Billion Dollar O'Gram
Information graphics displaying figures of spending reported in the media.

Each colour represents a pattern, categorising a topic of spending. This allows our brain to easily break down each piece of information and discover their relevance.

This overload of information is only increasing with the digital age. Social Networking sites provide endless amounts on just one person; age, DOB, marital status, likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies. If you then collected all the data on everybody who uses Facebook, no-one would even want to look at it, there is too much, none of which has any real relevance to our day to day lives. Unless you begin to reign in this information, perhaps taking one segment and explaining what  might be effecting this. For example 'individual' interests -peers, glossy mags, trends, calendar dates.

This abridged version of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow condenses one episode illustrating the information given to us through the course of a programme. We sit and we watch with interest but what would you take away...the ability to provide an estimated value of objects around your home, or remembering the price of  each item that was exhibited? No, its not going to happen the item maybe of interest to us in terms of historical context, however we receive over half of this data unconsciously because we don't understand what it means or have the ability to recognise relevance and process this efficiently enough before the cycle restarts.

Our ability to understand comes from the context in which information is placed; a series of words or statistics on a black and white badly spaced document, is extremely difficult to begin to comprehend. Where as that same information topically arranged, using bold type, bright colours is much easier to accept and discern meaning.  In order to competently communicate it is important to first appreciate audience, then develop a design of which is visually motivating through use of strong illustrative language appropriate to the topic in a context accessible to those in question. Beautiful data can change our perspective, our approach, the boring is manifested into fun, engaging information, and can often be of great intellectual benefit. "We have a lot of information problems in our society from the overload and saturation to the breakdown of trust and reliability and runaway skepticism and lack of transparency." By simplifying the complex we can build a foundation of which to quickly appreciate the topic and create a solution to that problem.


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