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….