There are infographics and then there are infographics; so rich with data, and visual interest that they quickly cross over an invisible line and become beautiful works of art. Infographic fans will surely delight in The Best American Infographics 2014 edited by Gareth Cook.
The book is divided into three sections, You, Us and the Material World. And, technically a forth section entitled Interactive, where you can see screenshots of ten infographics and then navigate to the URLs provided in the text e.g. Transit Map, NYC, Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present.
Why the growing interest in infographics? As Gareth Cook points out in the book’s foreword, “…something like half of the brain is involved in processing images. This fundamentally is why infographics have become such a force in our increasingly visual media.” Good infographics as Cook suggests bring flashes of clarity and leave us feeling ahhhh.
Nate Silver explains that by taking a visual approach to organizing information that we can tell stories that have advantages over purely verbal ones. Namely they offer approachability, transparency and efficiency.
Even the book’s cover is an infographic that reflects the range of one word responses and number of times the same word was used to complete the sentence, “Infographics have the power to ________.”
The words ranged from advise to woo with the two most frequent used words being enlighten and reveal. There were 42 terms that were classified as being negative with the three most frequently used, annoy, argue and lie.
While it might be nearly impossible to decide on your all-time favorite infographics in the book, for me I found that they tended to be the the ones whose topics and visual explanations most reflected areas of personal interest. And in one word, I’d have to agree they had the power to enlighten.