Richard Presley's Meandering Missives

Occasional thoughts on learning, training, and the business of both


September 2013

More on Infographics


My initial skepticism of infographics seems to have been justified. I’ve maintained that they are neither informative nor particularly graphic. I guess that’s unfair. They do contain information in the form of factoids and they do contain graphics after a fashion. However, I suspected that they have been grossly underutilized as education and training aids and more nefariously that they had been co-opted by marketing people to manipulate their intended audience. 

These suspicions have now been confirmed due to this ad I received today. If you open the template and look at the instructions, you find it is all about how to use infographics to attract attention and draw business to your web site. In my opinion, it is an abomination of trivialization. It says little about content and a great deal about tricks & tips. It is the kind of instruction that gives rise to reactionaries like Tufte. I can forsee has next rant being entitled “Death By Infographic.”  
So what does that have to do with training? Why is this more than a curmudgeonly rant? Because there IS a lesson to be learned. We are not in the business to manipulate others, but we exist to equip others, to give them the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to succeed. However, we cannot afford to let the medium overshadow the message. But just as importantly, we cannot let the message unnecessarily constrain our approach to appropriate media. I believe there IS a place for infographics in training but only in the hands of skilled ID’s. I believe it is time to bring common sense to the burgeoning world of infographic abuse. It’s time to advocate on behalf of the responsible use of infographics. 
Maybe I should create an infographic on that….

Columbus Segway Tours Maps an Interesting Interaction

I was looking at the web site for Columbus Segway tours. While it may not have all the sites that the Washington Segway Tours have, it does have a couple things that are better. 
1. Our Segway tour guides have helmets with headphones installed so you can hear the tour guide talk while touring. 
2. This cool interactive map of the route:
if you just watch it, it has the tour stops and it loads automatically. But if you mouse over it, you can highlight any spot to see it at your leisure. 
And a 1001 ideas popped into my head for how this style of graphic could be employed in a variety of learning interactions.
  • Anything that has a “route” involved
    • The circulatory system with highlights of important stops (heart, lungs, extremities) with brief explanations of their function and what happens there (pumping, blood pressure, gas exchange, etc.)
    • The electrical power grid and how electricity moves through the system and what happens at each stop along the way
    • Retracing the steps of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey
    • Historical re-enactments of battles, journeys, etc.
  • Anything that is process-driven
    • The blood banking process tracing the route of a collected unit and its transformations
    • Any manufacturing process showing inputs/outputs and delivery
  • Topological explanations with highlight spots
    • Protein folding along primary, secondary, and tertiary structures with pop-up explanations of gene sequences causing the folding (Former biology teacher – what can I say?)
    • Diagram of highway or traffic system with pop-up accident stats to show topography of dangerous intersections or stretches of road.
  • Let your imagination be your guide. 
If I let my mind wander too long, I would end up with a list of stuff that I could never use. My challenge now is to figure out how to use this cool tool in my current setting. 
So here’s the question – do any of you know how to build such a thing?

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