Monday, March 19, 2012

Visual.ly wants to be Powerpoint for Infographics - and that's a problem

Who doesn't love a good infographic right? But not all infographics are good. To democratize Data visualization is great in theory but making presentations more accessible seemed like a great idea too.

Instead we end up with word documents and cue cards with animation masquerading  as a presentation.

What makes a good infographic is how it makes the data accessible. Visualization makes it easier to draw conclusions about the data versus just staring at numbers. There is a conclusion to be drawn, an end in mind. To accomplish that  requires design principles, an understanding of the data and the point of the dataset.

How many presentations have you seen that you didn't get the point? Some might have had some great graphics and but in the end there was no convincing, there was no end-goal. Even Mr. Langille admits that many people Hate powerpoint now.

Visual.ly needs to aim higher than powerpoint. I think they will do great in the short-term. With their concept of themes and constraining the datasets to hashtags, FB pages they will be able to ensure quality design. Once they open up to other datasets such as poll data if they open up the themes you could a lot of fugly infographics.

Related Links
http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669241/with-new-tool-visually-wants-to-replace-powerpoint-with-infographics
http://www.visual.ly

Hope for the future

With Greece, global recessions and the possibility of yet another war, it's nice to find some hope for the future. Amidst global belt-tightening the government funded-education is being called upon to do more with less. Programs like full-day kindergarten which have a significant amount of research documenting the benefits are being questioned. Teachers as a union worker are the root of all that ails our economy. When teachers are vilified our collective futures are at risk.

As i've said before, I'm a huge fan of the the Khan Academy. Short and to the point. It explains a specific concept using easy to understand examples.

Now from the makers of some of the most inspirational videos TED comes TED-Ed. The objective is to provide videos to get students excited about broad subjects. They recognize all the great granular instruction out there and are building something complimentary. I'm very happy that people aren't trying to reinvent things and corner the market.

At the same time a very interesting piece from the NYT on a recent   OECD  study with the relationship between countries levels of education and their focus on mining. talks of the inverse correlation between resource-extracting focussed countries vs people-developing countries. While our natural resources are finite it's good to see countries prospering in a more sustainable manner. It's a lesson that all countries can learn from that the easy money with resources isn't always the best way.

To capture and amplify the world's best lessons to excite learners worldwide definitely a noble cause.

Related Posts:
http://tedchris.posterous.com/behind-todays-ted-ed-launch
http://shaunbala.blogspot.com/2011/07/gamification-of-everything.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/opinion/sunday/friedman-pass-the-books-hold-the-oil.html