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Infographics as an infolit product

Data is the new soil. Because for me, it feels like a fertile, creative medium. You know, over the years, online, we’ve laid down a huge amount of information and data, and we irrigate it with networks and connectivity, and it’s been worked and tilled by unpaid workers and governments. . . But it’s a really fertile medium, and it feels like visualizations, infographics, data visualizations, they feel like flowers blooming from this medium.

David McCandless

I’ve been thinking about infographics ever since I saw David McCandless’ TED talk, The Beauty of Data Visualization. A data journalist, McCandless, describes the importance of developing a relationship with numbers and the power of being able to see patterns and connections between numbers that would otherwise be scattered across multiple news reports.

Good information design, he suggests is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen beautiful new representations of data.

Blogs (like McCandless’s own Information is Beautiful, David Warlick’s InfoGraphic-a-Day, Cool Infographics, Flowing Data, Visual Complexity, Infosthetics, and Infographics Showcase) regularly highlight examples of creative data visualizations.

Over the past couple of years we’ve had access to a wealth of new tools for designing charts and graphs–tools like Many Eyes, GapMinder, and the variety of strategies listed on the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.

It occurred to me that we could/should begin to ask learners to interact with and make sense of data, not merely by studying and consuming it, but by creating and designing with it.  That designing infographics might be a worthy new strategy for creatively, and perhaps beautifully, communicating the result of student research–for developing and inspiring new levels of information and media fluency.

What I’d like to share with you, and what I plan to exploit this summer, are three ISTE11 presentations that shared fabulous resources for inspiring student work with data.

Infographics as a Creative Assessment from Kathy Schrock on Vimeo.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Though I sometimes get tired of the blogosphere’s obsession with infographics, I agree there’s a definite need for visual data–not just for individual sets like that McCandless’, but whole academic subjects.

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