Module 2. Brief 1. Week 4.
Last week I had the change to analyse a form of an infographic to see what components truly make up a successful information design. This allowed me to see that the four key components were simplicity, translatable, informative and appealing.
This week I will be distilling what I have learnt to create my own information design. Through continued research and experimenting with data, I will be visualising information of my choice into a successful piece of information design.
I want to experiment with unique ways of transferring data into design and push the boundaries of what information design can be.
This weeks lecture from, Joe Pochodzaj, is on the topic of the context information design operates in and the impact it can have on the world. It is a tool that has the ability to change our perspective. On ourselves, a political topic, a story, a fact, the world around us. We may think we know this information in full until we see this in a new, clearer light. This being said, the power that information design can have on people is significant.
Information design has the ability to cast future trends, needs, issues. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Without responsibility, which is misuse and manipulation. We live in a time of fake news and media manipulation, and this is down to the lack of ethical responsibility and the misuse of tools such as information design.
Information design is used as a tool to prove legitimacy. It supports text, text supports imagery, and imagery brings life to data. This new global issue is one that is causing an uproar from politics through to social media platforms. People are actually becoming fearful of giving their information over for this such as national censuses due to the unclarity of what will be done with this data. From the continued lies that Trump speaks of in his speeches, that have been proven to be false or unproven information. To infographics surrounding the subject of immigrants, however, the data portrayed makes it seem like there should be panic and danger when this is not the case.
Banu Cennetoglu, curator of The List. This was a publication that she later transformed into an installation piece that listed each individual that lost life while trying to seek asylum. She beautifully and quite simply explains that “each of these deaths are singular”. By making the information more tangible it becomes real. It makes it personal rather than just a statistic.
From maps showing poverty by household over 100 years ago to attempted to work out the risk of crime rates dependant on only this information, to a recent UK Police crime map. Crime data is shared with the public to allow the public an insight to the crime rates around them but is its also used as a tool to highlight the growing rates of crime and possibly make a statement to prevent crime in certain areas. This shows how data can become invasive, judgemental, and ethically wrong in a method of persuation.
The issues of publishing data encourages discrimination. There are many services that share only true information, such as UK Data Service  and Our World In Data . It can help analyse history and the world we see around us today.
Video, imagery, and sound can all be used as tangible tools to depict fact and truth. The studio Forensic Architecture use these mediums in exhibitions at the Tate to highlight the power they have and hold. The fascinating project they have worked on collating video footage from the night of the Grenfell fire has formed insightful evidence that can be used to piece together the sequence of events that night. They have produced an animation that is formed from real-life evidence. Another form of information design that represents nothing but the truth.
How can data visualisation help communicate issues about science, culture or environment?
The responsibility that design has in the modern age is great, so let’s use it to our advantage to do great things instead of intimidating and endangering our society. It is a tool that has the ability to change our perspective. If we use information design to express pressing matters regarding science and environment can we not do it in a persuasive way? The same way we currently use it to intimidate and scare, we can change the perspective of others to see the importance of things such as climate change.
“If you change perception, you can change emotion” – Edward de Bono, Future Positive (1979). By changing emotion, we have the power to create empathy, which brings the ability to change.
Source a scientific, cultural or environmental story that matters to you.
Create a piece of information design to communicate its information and reveal a new insight.
I feel after this weeks question I wanted to focus on the topic of climate change. A hot topic at the moment in the era of Extinction Rebellion.
Nasa shared this infographic to show how their scientists are working to understand if our land and ocean can continue to absorb carbon dioxide at the current rate – and for how long. But how effective is this information design compared to the one shared on the Extinction Rebellion site, shown below?
These graphs are truly shocking and make a statement. They tell us facts as well as predictions. These are used to scare us. To give us the information we need to force us to make a change.
Greta Thunberg put it beautifully in this interlude song by, The 1975:
“You say that nothing in life is black or white, but that is a lie, a very dangerous lie. Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t; either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t; either we choose to go on as a civilization, or we don’t. That is as black or white as it gets because there are no grey areas when it comes to survival” 
WWF has a wonderful page that creates an information design based on your personal carbon footprint. Encouraging you to change in certain aspects of your life, giving you small tips to decrease your carbon footprint. This shows how infographics can actually have a positive social impact.
Our World In Data  is a great tool to find our global facts and figures. I have been using it to discover some information about the climate crisis we are facing right now. The stats show information in the present day. However, the majority of the data compares the present to the past, showing how the stats have developed over time, they do not tell us what is predicted for the future. All of the information on this site is real information that has the evidence to back it up, so predictions are not shown.
Through looking at all of this data in relation to climate change I found a gap that was not displayed, most probably due to its controversy. People doing the most damage ranked against the people who will be affected the most by those actions. The least-developed countries are likely to be most affected by climate change, despite having contributed the least to the problem. While those with the highest income are the ones who are producing the most CO2 emissions, in turn causing the most effect. The rich are directly endangering the poor.
This information is poorly exhibited, and I even struggled to find anyone who successfully compared these results.
The National Geographic is of the few that managed to compare this gap . They ask the daunting but honest question, “Who’s fault is climate change? And who pays the price?”
This is something I wanted to clearly show in one simplified image. You can find this information separately but bringing this together and highlighting this controversial data will help to highlight the issue that is going on around us. In turn, making people realise what they are individually doing.
I decided to use a colour code to illustrate the highest to lowest effect. To separate the two questions, ‘who’s fault is it?’ Compared to ‘who pays the price?’ I illustrated the whole world map for the first question. Then layered on top dots to represent who was affected by this. This allowed a very quick and translatable understanding of the facts that are being told through the image.
This week I had a chance to look deeper into what infographics were and how they can be used. Understanding the power image has and how data can be portrayed for both good and bad. Fake news is something that comes up time and time again when we look into this. Reading information is nothing compared to seeing an image in front of you that proves why that information is correct.
Information design allows there to be tangible information for us to persuade. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this area of design that is used widely by more than just designers.
- The 1975 – The 1975 – Lyrics – https://genius.com/The-1975-the-1975-notes-lyrics