WAM! with Melissa Larabee

spring 2014: the semester that changed everything

rhetorical infographics!

5 Comments

Infographics are often used to take complex data and information and represent them visually in ways that are easier to digest and comprehend. It should be noted that while every infographic makes some rhetorical choices–which facts? in which order? in what style? how much text?–not every visual representation of data would count as an argument for the purposes of this assignment.

Some arguments are explicit:

  •  Bill Gates is Better than Batman. After Gates was compared to Batman for his philanthropic works, one artist created an infographic breaking down how many lives Gates has saved.
  • The Adjunct Crisis looks at why there are so many adjuncts and how it affects higher education.
  • The Decline of Detroit. We all know Detroit is in trouble. Here is a clear explanation of why.

While some others are more implicit, trusting the arrangement of facts and images to make the argument for them:

Do you find one of these approaches more effective than the other? What arguments, if any, might be present in infographics like Superman’s Costume Changes or Distance to Mars or this Guide to Cheese, which appear to simply represent facts? How do they function different from the other inforgraphics above, if at all? 

But there are other forms of infographics beyond those that handle lots of complex data. Sometimes infographics are more about showing the relations between things–much like maps (and indeed, many infographics contain maps). For instance, How Would You Like Your Graphic Design? is a simple, clear infographic that makes a point about the intersections between speed, price, and quality–but it contains no data whatsoever.

And not everything needs to look impeccably photoshopped. Take a look at these infographics from Web comic The Oatmeal:

To what degree can these infographics be discussed as comics? Compared to the more “professional” examples above, do you find them effective? Why or why not? 

 

5 thoughts on “rhetorical infographics!

  1. Do you find one of these approaches more effective than the other? What arguments, if any, might be present in infographics like Superman’s Costume Changes or Distance to Mars or this Guide to Cheese, which appear to simply represent facts? How do they function different from the other inforgraphics above, if at all?

    I personally feel that what makes Superman’s Costume Change, Distance to Mars, and the Guide to Cheese do just that – simply represent facts. I don’t think they offer any rhetorical arguments – instead they compile information to help audiences make sense of it.

    To what degree can these infographics be discussed as comics? Compared to the more “professional” examples above, do you find them effective? Why or why not?
    The last examples can be discussed as comics because they make a point using all of the tools comic artists use – visuals, text, and juxtaposition of the panels (they seem to bleed all into one). Compared to the “professional examples, they are less effective. For example, although the How Much Do Cats Kill infographic presents real information, the artist added their own opinions and comments within the pictures. The information presented is almost taken as a joke.

  2. I found that the most effective approach, presented, was the Bill Gates is “Better than Batman” piece. The piece helps to put in perspective the important work that gates has done over the year. It places a finite number, and testimony that the average person is not aware of.

    I think that the bill gate’s presentation could be turned into a comic by presenting a person’s life that he has made a difference for. The comic strip could depict a narrative of the person’s life prior to gates helping him and then depict a narrative of what the person’s life was after. This would be effective because narrative are more relatable to people than images.

  3. I thought it is not appropriate to discuss infographics as comics, even some infographics uses drawing rather than traditional data plots like histogram or ogive. Infographics concentrates on the relationship between data or arguments, so the number/sentence is the key point, and drawings included in it is just a way to make data or arguments easier to digest in the way the authors want.
    Comparing to the more “professional” examples, the caricatured inforgraphics are not less effective. I thought the professional style is more suitable when the contents are data or in some number-related form, while the comic style, like the Tesla example, is more suitable when the contents are a series of facts/arguments. So in terms of effectiveness, I don’t think anyone is better than the other.

  4. The greatest advantage of infographics is its quick way of delivering information. The goal is to be able to glance at the infographic, understand the large picture and then dissect the information.

    The disadvantages of infographics is a limited audience. Not every graphic can be understood by everyone in the world. Some graphics are meant for scientists, while some graphics about media may only interest those who are in the media industry.

    For these specific infographics, I think they only work if the person reading them is really interested in the topic. “The man of steel” infographic does nothing for me because I am not interested in Superman. The “How Far is it to Mars” is intriguing to me because of its visual presentation and interaction. It moves like a game and lets me be a part of it. I am interested in ‘A Guide to Cheese” because I love cheese, but it is not designed effectively. The reader has to click on different images to get to a certain point in the pie chart, and readers may lose interest if they can’t grasp the information they need all at once.

  5. What? No videos? *disappoint*

    What I enjoy about infographics is that it requires a lot of imagination to turn pure data into something visual. You learn to see before you get a chance to speak. There are a lot of studies on babies and sign language, and it turns out, images reach the brain faster than words. It’s an effective way to communicate if you want to learn a new language. An effective method, if you’re going to another country, is to take a chart with universal icons, like a toilet or water fountain. Point to the item in question and you’ll get your answer. My little brother had to do this when he came over from Taiwan, and I did, too. Comics are the same way. I usually look at the image before I read, getting better detail from images than words. It’s a lot easier if comics are purely visual because your brain is able to translate the image faster than words.

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