About

Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum

President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics.  Always looking for better ways to get the point across.

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Infographic Design

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Tuesday
Jun152010

Are We Addicted to the Internet? (infographic)

 

Great new infographic from Flowtown.com, Are We Addicted to the Internet?

 

While the American Medical Association has yet to officially classify internet addiction as a recognized mental health disorder, the statistics show that this issue is indeed serious – with potentially dangerous side affects. Betweeen 5 % and 10% of web surfers surfers suffer from some form of web dependency.The graphic below illustrates the state of internet addiction, as well as the rapid increase of Internet use in recent year.

 

Found on Social Media Graphics.

 

Friday
Jun112010

The Color Strata, a beautiful color naming infographic

Stephen Von Worley at WeatherSealed.com has taken the data made public from XKCD’s Color Name Survey and created a very cool infographic, The Color Strata.  Check out the high-resolution version.

The Color Strata includes the 200 most common color names (excluding black-white-grayish tones), organized by hue horizontally and relative usage vertically, stacked by overall popularity, shaded representatively, and labeled where possible.  Besides filtering spam, ignoring cruft, normalizing grey to gray, and correcting the most egregious misspellings (here’s looking at you, fuchsia), the results are otherwise unadulterated.  As such, similar color names, like sea green, seafoam green, and seafoam, each appear separately.  They’re synonymous… or are they?

Also check out the smoothed version:

It’s the same basic graph, but with flipped shading, label-free, stretched to fill the vertical, and whipped until creamy smooth.

The volunteer survey have over 200,00 respondents that named over 5,000,000 color samples.  Here’s the original image created by XKCD.com when they posted the data.

Found on ChartPorn.org and FlowingData.com

Thursday
Jun102010

A Cool Interview with Nathaniel Pearlman (infographic designer)

 

With the release of the Visual History of the American Presidency last week, I asked Nathaniel Pearlman, infographic designer and President of Timeplots, LLC, if he would be willing to do a short interview.  Nathaniel was nice enough to answer a few questions about his infographic design process and his projects.

Nathaniel started the company in May 2009 and released the Visual History of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) (which you see above) as their first infographic poster. 

Here’s the interview with Nathaniel:

 

Cool Infographics: What software applications do you use for the Timeplots posters?

Nathaniel Pearlman: So far we have programmed our graphics in the R language and done some final design work in Illustrator. I’m interested in hearing about other platforms to use for complex data and layout — especially other software applications that would allow us to create interactive and print versions from the same code base.


Cool Infographics: Can you describe your design process?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We start by asking ourselves what an informed audience would want to know about the subject we’re tackling. For example, for the presidential print, we asked ourselves, “Why is each president important? Why should people care about these guys? What is measurable about the context in which they served, and how could we show that?”

Then we go through a data collection phase: we take some time to see what data has already been collected on the subject, we catalog sources, and then we obtain data (and rights, if necessary) for the information we need. We wait until we have the hard data and have examined it and visualized it in several ways before we settle on what stories we can pull out of it.

The primary phase of the design process is iterative – there is a lot of trial and error. For example, we programmed (and scrapped) several major design ideas for our Senate print before settling on the current version. It turns out that our process is longer and more involved than I expected. Each print thus far has taken many months of data collection, design, and review. We also included quite a number of reviewers into our design process, folks with substantive expertise and designers as well.


Cool Infographics: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from the data?

Nathaniel Pearlman: I like the big picture: for me, the presidential print shows a historical view into the sweep of U.S. history — a marked contrast with the more journalistic, and immediate, take on the political and economic state of the nation that we are used to seeing in the news. It lengthened my perspective on current events, and I hope that it does so for those who purchase the print.

When you see the entire span of U.S. history visualized in just a few feet of space, you see the economy bouncing up and down, the parties jockeying back and forth, the budget bumping along. The ups and downs then seem fairly routine from this perspective, especially when compared to the sensationalism of our daily headlines. The other thing that really stands out is the growth of the country since 1789, both economically (in real GDP) and in population. As to the small picture: I love seeing details of each election — what percentage of the vote did Strom Thurmond get in 1948, for example, and which states did he win — so we tried to put each election into context with a scoreboard and electoral cartogram wrapped around the curve of party control of the executive.

 


Cool Infographics: What was the hardest part behind designing the Presidential poster?

Nathaniel Pearlman: When you see a finished product like ours, what you miss are the hundreds of decisions that were labored over as it was created. For me, the most difficult thing is deciding when I’m done. Every time I look at a new draft, I have ideas for changes that could be made. At some point I have to say “enough is enough; we are done.” The other hard part is writing the text that’s included on the print.. just crafting short explications of each presidency is difficult.


Cool Infographics: Where are some of your favorite places that have the SCOTUS poster on display?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We are happy that the U.S. Supreme Court library displays a framed print, and the gift shop in the Supreme Court building itself carries the print. We’ve also seen many purchases by legal luminaries — we’re not legal experts ourselves, so it’s nice to see that the experts appreciate our work. A son of a current justice bought one. Also, many high school teachers from across the country have purchased prints for their classrooms (we offer discounts for educators); it’s great to see teachers showing interest in using data visualization as an educational tool.


Cool Infographics: Where do you have the posters printed, what are the printing specs and why? 

Nathaniel Pearlman: We shopped around quite a bit for a printer, because we are fussy about the results – we wanted the quality of the paper to top-notch, we needed relatively fast turnaround and reliable fulfillment, and we wanted the printing process to be environmentally friendly — all of this, of course, at an affordable cost. We currently offset-print the posters in Maryland, at Whitmore printing, and they also do our fulfillment. (Ideally, we would like to find an affordable on-demand printer who can handle our large-scale posters and fulfillment. If we found this, we would be able to sell shorter-run prints; please send me any suggestions!)


Cool Infographics: Would you share some thoughts on running a business selling infographic posters?

Nathaniel Pearlman: I am enjoying Timeplots. As a profit-generating business, it is not for the faint-of-heart. I am lucky to have some time and space to try it, but it is unlikely to run in the black for quite some time. My first company, NGP Software, Inc. (www.ngpsoftware.com) is doing well and allows me to do this on the side.


Cool Infographics: How has the Timeplots On Demand side of the business been going with private clients? 

Nathaniel Pearlman: We’ve really enjoyed working with people who aren’t necessarily familiar with data visualization — everyone who we’ve worked with has been more than happy with the results. So — if anyone reading this has a project in mind, or if you want us to create a visualization for you or your institution — let us know!


Cool Infographics: How did the process of using Amazon Mechanical Turk for proofreading work for you?

Nathaniel Pearlman: Mechanical Turk is a good method for crowd-sourcing some kinds of work. We’ve used it for three separate projects now — twice for proofreading, and once for fact-checking research. We have gotten more hits than misses, so it’s been worthwhile. Eliza manages that process and has been impressed by the level of work she has received. The Mechanical Turk worker community (“turkers,” as they call themselves) are serious about their work, and it shows. In a couple cases, a “turker” found an error that we all missed: for example, when we posted the presidential print for proofreading, one turker pointed out that we listed Vice President John C. Breckinridge as “Breckenridge,” clearly misspelling his name. Another turker noted that we had described President Taylor as dying “halfway” through his term, when in fact it was a few months prior to “halfway.”


Cool Infographics: What should we expect in the future from Timeplots?

Nathaniel Pearlman: We have a rough list of fifty or sixty more projects we would love to do. After we launch the Senate print, we will decide what is next. I would love to hear from your audience what they would like to see, and we are always looking for collaborators, if someone would like to work with us on a project that they care about. We’re always open to new ideas!

 

Thursday
Jun102010

A Visual History of the American Presidency - new infographic poster

 

Timeplots has released their second infographic poster, A Visual History of the American Presidency.  Timeplots was launched by Nathaniel Pearlman and Frank Hamilton in December 2009 with the release of the Visual History of the Supreme Court infographic poster, which is now hanging in many schools, law practices and political offices.

This large-scale print is like nothing else available on the history of the American presidency. It places each president in historical context, visualizing a remarkable range of political, social, and economic measures to succinctly tell the story of the presidency. Narratives are displayed within the larger context of American political history by aggregating and annotating hard data on population, presidential elections, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the U.S. economy, and the federal budget and debt. The Timeplot provides a new lens into American political history; it is not intended to be absorbed at a glance, but rather to be visited and revisited over time.

 

 

A beautiful poster, and a very impressive infographic design.  Very Tufte-like in its infographic design, which is no surprise since Nathaniel was a student of Edward Tufte at Yale.  

At its heart, this is a fantastic mix of timelines.  Additionally, the poster is an incredibly detailed infographic that includes things like the time period of each President, the balance of Congress during each term, approval ratings, population growth, the U.S. GDP, the Federal Budget, unemployment, election cartograms and statistics, a biography of each President’s political history and so much more.

 

 

The high-resolution infographic is available on the Timeplots site using Zoomify, but it really shines as the printed poster.  You can order the printed 32”x48” poster from the Timeplots.com site for $45, or a smaller 24”x36” version for $30. 

 

 

Great job to the entire team at Timeplots!  Later today, I’ll post a behind-the-scenes interview with Nathaniel.

Wednesday
Jun092010

Our Amazing Planet: Top to Bottom infographic

 

Designed by Karl Tate, Our Amazing Planet: Top to Bottom is a cool infographic that looks at the scale of things from the upper atmosphere to the deepest ocean depths.

 

 

The infographic is HUGE (14,677 pixels tall), and that keeps it accurate to the scale.  It’s unreadable when the entire infographic is viewed on the screen, and that adds to the readers grasp of how big this scale really is.

 

 

It’s also timely with recent events, showing the depth of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill, and drilling depth.  You can view the entire image on OurAmazingPlanet.com.

 

Wednesday
Jun092010

iPhone 3GS vs. iPhone 4 infographic

 

From the iPhone team at Mahalo, the iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3G infographic does a good job covering the bases on what’s new about the new iPhone.  But Jason Calacanis asked at the end of the post “any ideas of how to improve?”  So I offer my infographic suggestions:

  1. Visualize the data accurately.  It the battery section the bars shown are 8 bars for 5 hours and 12 bars for 7 hours.  Based on that scale, the 7 hours should only be 11.2 bars. Matching the numbers exactly with 5 and 7 bards would be easier for the readers to comprehend. The small bar chart in between is redundant.
  2. Do something to visualize the increase in processor speed and RAM.  Don’t just list numbers.
  3. Do something to visualize the megapixels of the camera, don’t just list the numbers.  A square showing the area covered by each resolution would be good.
  4. Same with the screen resolution, do something to visualize how many more pixels or on the display
  5. The 24% thinner looks like an after thought, make size and dimensions its own category
  6. Don’t show 8GB, 16GB and 32GB memory cards all the same size.  Visualize the differences.

 What would you suggest as improvements?

Tuesday
Jun082010

WTF is HTML5 and Why Should We Care? (infographic)

From Focus.com, WTF is HTML5 is a cool visual explanation of HTML5, how supported it is by different browsers and how it compares to Adobe Flash.

From an infographic design view, I don’t like the legend for the color codes in the browser matrix.  I shouldn’t have to look back and forth to figure out what feature is missing from a particular browser.

Thursday
Jun032010

Cool Infographics on an iPad at the Apple Store

At the Southlake Apple Store

I was at the Southlake Apple Store today because the battery in my Black MacBook was dying.  In fact, it was swelling up, getting extremely hot and randomly shutting the MacBook down.  That was a problem.  The laptop is 3 1/2 years old, which it puts it 2 years beyond the AppleCare warranty, so I had to buy a new battery.  The Apple genius told me that usually this type of battery last 260 cycles, and mine had lasted 484 cycles.  Not bad.

While I was there, I had to play with one of the new iPads, and of course had to make sure that Cool Infographics was displaying correctly.  Not only was it displaying correctly, but the display on the iPad makes the blog look amazing!

Here’s how to setup an icon on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch for the Cool Infographics blog: (screen shots from my iPhone)

 

Step 1:

View CoolInfographics.com in the Safari app and press the “+” icon at the bottom of the screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:

Press the “Add to Home Screen” button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3:

Edit the name you want to display, and press “Add”.  (The icon is loaded automatically)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it!  You can move the icon to any of your screens, and always have easy access to the Cool Infographics blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Jun032010

Which Retailers are Closing their Doors?

From Milo.com, Which Retailers are Closing their Doors? is an infographic showing which retail chains in America have closed the most locations.

Although the recession is technically now over, it was not without its victims. And while independent mom-and-pop stores certainly suffered, many chain stores across the country also felt the heat. Few retailers were safe from layoffs and store closings, but the entertainment and apparel industries in particular seem to have bore the brunt of the pain. Below are the retailers that had no choice but to close some, or all, of their doors.

Created by Column Five Media.

For our most recent infographic for Milo, we took a look at which of America’s largest retailers were closing up shop(s). This graphic illustrated the fifty retailers that were closing the most store locations.

Friday
May282010

The Evolution of the Television - infographic timeline

The Evolution of the Television looks at the last 84 years of TV’s history.  Brought to us from the Sterling Satellite blog.

Did you know it took 13 years for television to reach 50 million users? TV has evolved from the time it started with just a few programs airing each day into 24/7 news and hundreds of stations to choose from.

People didn’t immediately embrace the new technology though. 10 years after its debut in 1936, the head of 20th Century Fox Darryl F. Zanuck (seeing TV as a competitor to movies) famous last words were predicting it would not catch on.  He said he thought “People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”

But they have not.

Thanks to @Matt_Siltala for the link!