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COM 460: Infographics & Visualizations

October 3, 2013

As our COM 460 class continues to learn more in-depth about social media, it is clear that we are learning the material in a completely different way than within many other courses offered to students. Communication majors in particular can tell you that displaying information to convey meaning has come a long way with our modern digital age.

Today, using photos and videos to communicate a message to an audience serves as a modern rendition of infographic illustrations. Wikipedia outlines how Infographics are “visual representations of information, data or knowledge”.  This concept lays the foundation for numerous creative possibilities when applied to the online media. This also ties into what we learned in lecture regarding sites like YouTube, Pintrest, Vine, and Instagram being platforms for storytelling and infographic display. Displaying vast data in a short amount of time accurately is key.

Some may argue that people and Americans specifically value infographics and visualization so highly because of the time-poor nature of our culture. We as modern digital humans need information quickly summarized and presented directly to us (preferably on my iPhone…with lots of pictures and maybe a video). One article by blogger Randy Krum reviews Google’s new AdWords Conversions program. The main point of the article is that Google has developed a program to analyze cross-device conversion patterns, but that really doesn’t matter because it took me time to read the completely to find that. And really, who has time for that these days? My point of this ramble is that people what graphics (pictures and videos) to convey information with a high-level of accuracy and dependability, directly to them in form that is easy to use (a large visual flowchart in the case of Randy Krum’s intended message).

As I sit and write this, another example of informative visualizations strikes me. I got a snapchat on my iPhone from Team Snapchat while finishing the last paragraph. It was a video message promoting their newest update with something called “Snapchat Stories”. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Blogger Darrell Etherington of techcrunch.com thought it was so exciting that he had to write Snapchat Stories review of the update and share it with the world less than an hour after its release. His review with video element visualizations allows the reader to quickly gather that the new update allows for a deeper social networking aspect, much like other sites they compete with. At that’s all the normal reader may gather from the article. Those more interest can easily learn more, but most absorb the info and move on quickly.

To conclude, infographics and visualizations as they are used today ultimately serve the traditional purpose of displaying information quickly to an audience. A quick Google image search of “top 10 infographics” brings up pages of highly visual flowcharts with key points highlighted. This is an illustration of visualizing complex information is exceedingly helpful in gaining audience attention and conveying a message.

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