visual thinking

Fonts These Days!

This Chart gave me some laughs…

click for larger image

But seriously, fonts these days!! For us old-timers, we’ve lived through pixelated, then Postscript fonts. Then came utilities to help us manage the technical and artistic confusion: Suitcase and Adobe Type Manager.   TrueType and OpenType came along trying to simplify how software and printers processed font data.

Today we have Google fonts and all their digital cousins, and an open-source bonanza of new fonts, free and for hire.

How do you manage your fonts?

Here’s an article that reviews a number of options from Spoon Graphics. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these in more detail.

I have been relying on Font Book for a while now, and longing for something that would let me use a limited set for every day but ‘go shopping’ for styles and font faces by category when I needed them. I plan to try the free version of Font Explorer to see if it might help, and I’ll report in.

But I really want to hear from you. Let me know what font managing solutions have worked for you, or if you try any of these recommendations, how they work out.

 

Visual Information: Impact of Vacinations

In a clear and compelling illustration, these charts of disease incidence before and after the introduction of vaccines show dramatic decline in illness from measles and polio.
Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.44.31 AM

This data from Project Tycho and the Center for Disease Control shows the numbers of infected people by state and year, (at the scale is cases per 100,000 people.) When the vaccine is introduced there is a brief lag and then marked decline in cases.You can see more examples HERE, including hepatitus A, rubella, whooping cough and small pox.
Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.47.44 AM

The Eyes ARE the Brain

I’m a lifelong fan of the power of the visual mind. An artist since I was a child, the power and richness of imagery has always captivated me.

Although we seem to value text and numerical data over mere ‘pictures,’ over 90% of all information processed by our brains is visual. Since we perceive the world in rich, colorful moving three-dimensions, a great deal of processing is required to sort all of that data into information we can make sense of. That’s why over half of our brain is dedicated to visual processing.  The retina and optic nerve are actually extensions of the brain itself, conducting massive amounts of image processing.

The near-instantaneous speed and broad bandwidth of our visual thinking is what gives advertising and movies their mesmerizing power.

Here’s a section from a cool infographic from NoeMam Studios that does a great job of telling that story:

imageprocessbrain

Click on this image to see the entire Infographic

 Why is this important?

If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great article on the miraculous visual nervous system and how it takes the raw data of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (what we call ‘light’), collects it, and assembles it into the coherent visual world we take for granted. It really gives one a profound appreciation for the sheer processing power at work in our very own grey matter.

Stop and See the Roses

Take time to appreciate what your visual cortex does for you today, when you notice the fall colors, enjoy your child’s smile, or find your attention captured by an advertisement or book cover.

And don’t neglect to harness this awesome power in your marketing.

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If you’d like to talk about custom infographics for your business, please get in touch.

Depicting THE GLOBAL FLOW OF PEOPLE

Having worked with demographic data for years (as a writer and artist) I have acquired some ability to manipulate and read spreadsheets in order to derive meaning from them. Full time demographers and other researchers have honed the same skills, but for most of us, nothing can compare to the near-instantaneous glance that visual display can provide.

To provide a beautiful example check out The Global Flow of People,  an intereactive infographic that depicts the migration of humans to and from world regions,developed at the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.   Researchers Nikola SanderGuy J. Abel & Ramon Bauer  working with designer Elvira Stein used color and shape to create a powerful display of complex data.

Origins and destinations are represented by the circle’s segments. Each region/country is assigned a colour. Flows have the same colour as their origin and the width indicates their size.

So many stories can be told from this one elegant piece of work, representing volumes of data presented it for our minds to readily digest. Here’s just one: the changing patterns in emigration in South Asia by 5-year increments.

SouthAsia

This timeframe spans the ‘War on Terror’ as well as the rise of India as a competitive economy. There are dozens of insightful relationships to inquire about, just from this one slice of the data. Why is there an uptick in emmigration to Iran from Europe in 1995-2000 and from the US in 2000-2005?  Who are the South-east Asians who are moving into Bangladesh?

Visit the interactive master post to experiment with  the original interactive graphic where you can which will examine a single region, break out by country, and show data from four different 5-year time frames.