Tag: infographics

Android is catching up iOS

121221-android-mba-rWell, there is nothing new in this statement. The smartphone OS Android is catching up and even overtaking its rival iOS in many domains:

  • more activated products per day and per year in 2011,
  • more Samsung Galaxy S3 (running Android) sold in Q3 2012 than iPhone4 and 5S (running iOS),
  • more devices worldwide,
  • catching up Apple’s market share in tablets,

All this is summarised in an infographics MBA Online designed (the original address is here: http://www.mbaonline.com/android/click at your own risk). It is sweet and colorful, with lots of numbers and some references in the end. Unfortunately these references are embedded in the image so you cannot click on them if you ever want to read more info.

Also as I mentioned previously (for an infographics coming from a similar type of website), I didn’t like much the fact it was very, very long (see reduced copy on the right). It makes things easily read while scrolling down. But ymmv I would have like something a bit more different. For instance I would have seen this more as a succession of slides, a-la Pechakucha maybe (except there is a lot of text). But the restrictive license (CC-by-nc-nd) prohibits derivative works.

So I like my Android device. I like when people promote it, are proud that Android is a success and talk about it. And the web is full of these infographics: a similar story about taking over the world, the successive Android versions (again very long), tastes of Android users (versus iOS users’), a broader smartphone comparison (again very long), a Google search for it, … Choose the one you like!

Effects of Tobacco on health – visualized

As you probably know I am interested in both diseases (and health in general) as well as visualization. Recently Online Nursing Programs (*) invited me to have a look at their latest infographics about the effects of tobacco on health (directly to figure).

Although numbers seem correct (references are at the bottom), although they intelligently re-use the presentation of some well-known tobacco companies, there is one thing that I don’t like that much: like this sentence, the figure is very, very long. You have to scroll many pages in order to see everything. It may look like a story but it is not presented as such (I mean: there are no clear marks of different steps in the story, except the three “chapters”). On the right is the complete figure in exactly 800 pixels of height – can you read something? GOOD.is solved this issue by using a Flash player that allows the viewer to woom in/out and go to different sections of the figure (see here for instance).

Now, about smoking … Smokers do what they want with their health. Of course, I criticise the physical dependency, the effects on social security and indirectly on everyone’s capacity to react to other health issues. And of course I hope that people could stop smoking. But in my opinion the most disgusting thing about tobacco is secondhand smoking (aka. passive smoking): the inhalation of smoke by persons other than the active smoker. This passive smoking is especially harmful in young children. The CDC estimated that it is responsible for an estimated 150,000–300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia annually, as well as approximately 7,500–15,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States – both in children below 18 months. And in adults, passive smoking increase the risk of heart disease and lung cancer by 20-30%. Without doing anything – just inhaling smoke from your neighbour.

So it was a very nice idea from them to draw people’s attention to these health issues. It could have been better if the figure would have been more “readable” IMHO.

(*) Unfortunately for them, “Online Nursing Programs” sounds like a website that will just ask for your credit card number although they publish nice infographics – like this other one about sanitation. The About page that doesn’t say who they are add to these doubts.

Created by Online Nursing Programs, license CC-…

Let my dataset change your mindset

In the previous post, I shared a video of David McCandless giving a talk about information visualisation. One phrase caught my attention and a bit of research lead to a very good discovery. The phrase and context is (emphasis is mine):

We need relative figures that are connected to other data so that we can see a fuller picture, and then that can lead to us changing our perspective. As Hans Rosling, the master, my master, said, “Let the dataset change your mindset“. And if it can do that, maybe it can also change your behavior.

Who is Hans Rosling? A Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and Director of the Gapminder Foundation (from Wikipedia). Nothing fancy nor anything related to information visualisation at first sight. Except that the Gapminder Foundation is “a non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals“. So what? Gapminder also “pursue[s] the development of the Trendalyzer […] [seeking] to unveil the beauty of statistical time series by converting boring numbers into enjoyable, animated and interactive graphics“.

And this software is really great (see screenshot below but, above all, in all Rosling’s videos): from one single interface, you can gather lots of different types and sources of data (about the development of the countries of the world) on the same chart and it nicely display them along more than the two dimensions of your screen. Bubble sizes and colours represent other dimensions. And the whole thing move with time (years).

Trendanalyzer screenshot

What is also very interesting is that you can play with Trendanalyzer (in Gapminder world) and download the data behind it. In addition, Google acquired Trendanalyzer and offers some of its components as a “gadget”: Motion Chart.

The beauty of the software is nothing without appropriate use. And in all of his videos, Hans Rosling makes appropriate use of data visualisation, succeeding in converting messages heavily relying on statistics and various sources of data (not something usually visual attractive) in simple visualisations. As David McCandless said: “It’s effortless; it literally pours in”. By visualising it in such a way, it’s more easy for the dataset to try to change your mindset.

Because the tool isn’t everything. With its help, Hans Rosling is trying to convey messages. And if you watch any of his videos, you’ll see that he effectively succeeds in doing it wether it’s to make you stop talking about “developing” countries or to make you think about the role of the end of poverty in the growth of world population, for example. In his Six Minutes blog, Andrew Dlugan summarises Hans Rosling’s technique in 6 points:

  1. Explain the data axes
  2. Highlight subsets of data
  3. Dig deeper to unwrap data
  4. Place labels close to data points
  5. Answer the “Why?” questions
  6. Complement data with energetic delivery

Hans Rosling presenting The seemingly impossible is possible at TED 2007

Althought some of these techniques were taught or discovered by own practise during B.Sc./M.Sc./Ph.D., the combination of them make a presentation very effective, even in front of a small audience.

Why do I blog this? I watched all Rosling’s videos in one go. Once the current presentation was over, it was difficult to resist to watch the next one. From a general perspective, I’m very interested in all means to ease the way people can grasp huge amount of data and to maintain their interest during presentations. From a more practical perspective, I’m starting to deal with some amount of information for various projects and I’m looking for attractive ways to show them. And I was about to forget Hans Rosling is professor of Global Health, a field close to my current one: Health Economics. You couldn’t dream of a better thing than learning more about your field with interesting ideas and appealing presentations.
What triggered the redaction of this blog post is the release of a 55-minute documentary about Hans Rosling’s life and thoughts on YouTube.

David McCandless on information visualisation

Tonight, I realised that David McCandless was behind informationisbeautiful.net, a blog dedicated to information visualisation which I often mentionned before on this blog.

David McCandless speaking at TED, July 2010

Last month, David McCandless gave a talk at TED, a NGO “devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading”. And it was very interesting to hear him, to put a living face on a blog and to apprehend the amount of work to make such great infographics simple to understand. Here is the video (thanks to the license: CC-by-nc-ndon this page, there is a link to download the high quality video):


Why do I blog this? I was always and I am still interested in information visualisation, could it be from others (like the flu tracker or, more modestly, my own attempts (to stay in the flu topic). As David said, everyday, everyone of us is blasted by information design, it’s being poured into our eyes, it’s a “dormant litteracy”. And I am curious of new ways of visually presenting large datasets like at the Hack.lu 2009 InfoVis Contest or results of time-consuming models of disease spread.
But of course, on the other hand, you have to ask the right questions, look from the right angle: the one who master information design may also influence the minds of those who see this information and, more importantly, its interpretation. David McCandless didn’t say anything about this: the responsability of the designer regarding the interpretation of his/her design.