Nice infographic, but do people get it?
A story in this week’s edition of The Economist, “Too much buzz”, renews the debate on whether the flood of new media messages is resulting in more information than people can interpret.
The story argues that “Most commentary on social media ignores an obvious truth—that the value of things is largely determined by their rarity. The more people tweet, the less attention people will play to any individual tweet. The more people ‘friend’ even passing acquaintances, the less meaning such connections will have.”
Can you say the same about infographics?
While researching the ways new media argues the pros and cons allowing employees to access social media at work, one thing became clear: infographics rule. They rule even at the expense of text.
Mediabistro’s All Twitter reprints a large infographic by the U.K.’s Reed.com.uk depicting the use of social media by young people in that country in an effort to prove that such use increases productivity by nine percent.
It’s a nice piece of art. Whether it’s convincing, that’s questionable. The accompanying text (indeed, in many instances it appears that the text accompanies the infographic instead of being the other way around) provides little back up for the claims.
A story on Soshable.com also relies on an impressive infographic to pose the question if whether the use of social media at work yields to higher productivity.
The writer, J.D. Rucker, relies on an infographic from Socialcast to convey the information, letting the reader draw his or her own conclusions.
“Depending on which study you look at (and there are several that yield opposite conclusions) you can make a case for either side. We’re sticking with this one from SocialCast, probably because it looks really nice and the facts make sense.”
But, does it?
As we explore whether there is any way to make sense of all the blogs, posts, tweets and links, should we not also ask whether infographics are adding to the confusion rather than helping us make sense?
Alexander Russo’s blog “This Week in Education” used a telling graph in Scholastic Administrator that points to the danger of infographics failing to deliver the message.