Information Design Watch
December 8, 2003, 9:49 am
The value of maps and other visuals, even when generated by an information-gathering process, may be more artistic than informational:
“A project to create a comprehensive graphical representation of the Internet in just one day…has already produced some eye-catching images.”
The sheer complexity of some representations makes them hard to use analytically. By using labeling or filtering mechanisms, one can begin drawing information out of such complexity. In the instance of the Opte project described above, an option to display IP addresses along a traceroute (via a preset preference, or, for an interactive display, by mouseclick), would begin to make the Internet map more maplike. More information on the Opte project is at http://www.opte.org/.
December 8, 2003, 9:47 am
When footnotes are URLS, footnotes disappear. Faster than you may think:
“In research described in the journal Science last month, the team looked at footnotes from scientific articles in three major journals — the New England Journal of Medicine, Science and Nature — at three months, 15 months and 27 months after publication. The prevalence of inactive Internet references grew during those intervals from 3.8 percent to 10 percent to 13 percent.”
Mentioned in the article is the digital object identifier system known as DOI. This is a system we’ve seen used effectively in our work for scientific publishers. The DOI web site is http://www.doi.org/.
December 8, 2003, 9:45 am
David Byrne has learned to love it:
“Although I began by making fun of the medium, I soon realized I could actually create things that were beautiful. I could bend the program to my own whim and use it as an artistic agent.”
Edward Tufte believes it is an evil program:
“Power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.”
Our take? By importing images and objects (including Flash movies) we can make our presentations as customized as we like. Even Tufte admits that PowerPoint “is a competent slide manager.” Furthermore, we have found PowerPoint quite useful for making wireframes (page schematics). It is sufficiently flexible, accommodates notes, and everyone has it (unlike Visio, for example), so clients can circulate documents easily within their organizations.