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.

Infographic Design

Looking for help creating your own infographics?  Randy’s infographic and data visualziation design company:

InfoNewt Infographic Design

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Wednesday
Apr282010

Jess Bachman Interview (Death & Taxes 2011 Poster Giveaway!!)  #deathandtaxes

Last week, Jess Bachman (@mibi) from WallStats.com released the new 2011 Death & Taxes poster.  I caught up with Jess (by email) to ask some questions about his huge infographic undertaking.  The high-resolution image of the poster is available now online, and the printed version will start shipping on May 7th.  You can pre-order for $24, and the shipping cost is only $0.75 TODAY (April 28th)

WIN a copy of the poster!  Jess has been kind enough to offer a free poster to a reader of Cool Infographics.  To be eligible, you must tweet (or retweet) a link to this post on Twitter before May 7th, and include the #deathandtaxes hashtag.  I included the hashtag in the post title, so any retweets will be automatically eligible.  NOTE: you must also be following me on Twitter (@rtkrum) so that I can send you a DM if you have won!

Death and Taxes” is a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget. It contains over 500 programs and departments and almost every program that receives over 200 million dollars annually. The data is straight from the president’s 2011 budget request and will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress to begin the fiscal year. All of the item circles are proportional in size to their funding levels for visual comparison and the percentage change from both 2010 and 2001 is included so you can spot trends.

The detail in this poster is stunning, and in this small shot you can see how the total budget request breaks out. Only the “Military/Nat. Security Discretionary” and “Non-Military/Nat. Security Discretionary” portions of the budget request details are displayed in the poster.

 

Jess was also nice enough to answer a few interview questions I sent him:

Cool Infographics: What software applications do you use for the Death & Taxes posters?

Jess Bachman: The only applications I use are Photoshop and Excel.  Excel is where I in put all the data and it crunches the numbers, adjusts for inflation and calculates diameters.  Photoshop is where I put it all together and the PSD file occasionally exceeds 1 gig so it can be a beast to work with.  Saving takes about 5 minutes.

Cool Infographics: What’s your design process?

Jess Bachman: Normally I start from scratch and layout the images and make them fit; however, this year the budget didn’t change all that much, likely being from the same President, so I was able to keep the 2010 format and change the size of circles.  Of course some things had to be added and removed.  So this year I saved myself about 3 weeks of work just getting right into it, but the design process is grueling.  it’s small tasks, repeated 500 times.

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

Jess Bachman: I can definitely see the differences in Presidents from Bush to Obama.  Lots of reductions on the military side this year and the whole security climate as a whole isn’t as fiscally robust as it was a few years ago.  Much more progressive funding with Obama too.  Every year Bush would cut climate change research, now its back, along with other green tech.  For some reason, public proadcasting gets the hack saw every year no matter who’s in office.

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

Jess Bachman: Well it’s always good to see it on display in schools and classrooms.  But I really enjoy hearing from military members who have in their offices or even in station.  I have sent several to Afghanistan.  Critics often say the poster is anti-military, but the military is quite receptive to it, even the former Dept. of Defense Comptroller, Tina Jonas, loved the poster.  Some people from the Dept of Energy’s Oak Ridge Lab displayed the poster on their 30’ Everest computer screen… that was cool too.

Cool Infographics: What’s the hardest part when developing the poster?

Jess Bachman: The hardest part is just getting through all the rote data processing and mindless photoshopping.  The research side is quite fun, and going through the military budgets is a trip with all their classified and hi-tech programs. However, copying and pasting 5,000 times really takes a toll on my creativity and motivation.

Cool Infographics: You said you do a lot of copy & paste work, in what format do you get the data?

Jess Bachman: Some of the government data is in Excel already, but there is no context so I am dubious about working solely with their data sets.  Mostly I pull the numbers from the actual printed budget, which is in PDF form.  So I end up copying and pasting the program name and its funding level for 3 years into Excel, then I copy and paste the program name, funding level, and percentages back into photoshop as a text layer.  Rinse and repeat 500 times.  Many people ask if there was an automated way to create the poster each year and I wish there was, but the confines of the paper make size and fit a manual process.

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

Jess Bachman: I get my posters printed from a company called PrintPelican in Florida.  There really are no cheaper prices out there but I opt for a thicker cut of paper than usual.  I get 100# gloss cover which is a few shades from a business card in thickness.  To be honest, they have screwed up my order a few times over the years but we have always managed to work it out.  I usually print runs of 1000-2500 and always 24” x 36”.

Cool Infographics: How do you handle all of the printing and shipping of the posters?  Do you tube them yourself?

Jess Bachman: I used to do it all myself.  I had a 400lb brick of posters next to my bed, and 12 giant boxes of tubes all over the house, and I would roll pack and ship them all.  Now I use two shippers who do fulfillment of the orders for me.  For a while I would send them the orders and addresses weekly but I have offloaded that duty as well.  I think the self shipping method is a good lesson in customer service and its good to know your product inside and out, but after while my time became more valuable than stuffing tubes could afford.

Cool Infographics: You’ve used a few different online zoomable image services in the last few years, what have you learned?

Jess Bachman: There are lots of zooming options out there and new ones seem to pop up all the time.   I used Zoomify until it felt too clunky and slow, then Zoomorama which I really loved for its performance and options.  This year I experimented with an self hosted open source app called Open Zoom and it certainly was a slick and great user experience, unfortunately the demands it placed on my server from huge inflows of traffic proved too much, taking down the whole site.  So I had to switch to my backup, which was Closr.it, and let them deal with server demands.  Closr.it has been very attentive to my needs and I have found that most developers will work with me to tailor a custom solution if I ask.  The zooming apps keep getting better so I expect to keep changing apps as long as the space keeps innovating.

Cool Infographics: You mentioned the 30’ display, have you printed it out in larger sizes?

Jess Bachman: No, I have not printed it out any larger.  The file being Photoshop, and the images being mostly rastered do not allow quality printing beyond the poster size.  The file is 300 dpi so I could get away with a slightly larger size, but oversize printing is expensive and who wants a poster that big anyways. 

Cool Infographics: Where do the images come from?

Jess Bachman: Most of the military images come from defenseLINK, which is a great repository for hi-res military photos.  Other images come from stock photography sites for the most part.  It does help that most government logos are round.  I suppose it’s just an old school way of doing things, government seals and all.  The design aesthetic amongst government logos is really all over the map though, and its quite interesting.  Some look like that are from the 1700’s, and some from the 2700’s.

 There was one correction to the online version that Jess has posted:

So I totally had the wrong data for NASA on the visual. Here is the corrected image, which reflects what you have been reading in the news. Science up, space down. I fixed it before it was printed, don’t worry.

You can view the image, buy the poster and more at the new site DeathandTaxesPoster.com.

SPECIAL: If you pre-order the poster TODAY (April 28th) shipping is only $0.75!

Monday
Apr122010

Social Media Demographics - infographic

I like the “small squares” style used in Social Media Demographics for displaying demographic data.  The “by age” section is hard to read because it lines up so nicely with the site legend.  It’s also a little confusing to have the sites change axes for the different sections.

 

Numerous social media sites have witnessed explosive growth of their user bases in the last several years, but it’s a known fact that the type of user a site attracts varies greatly. Have you ever wondered which sites attract the most educated of social media users, or those that pull in the highest income? Below we map the demographics of the world’s most popular social media sites.

 

Is MySpace really that popular with the 0-17 crowd?  What year is the data from?

Found on Flowtown.com

Friday
Apr092010

An Infographic About Making an Infographic...

An infographic from Brandon Oxendine showing how his time is divided between activities when working on designing an infographic.  Brandon, try spending more time drooling…

You can see more on Brandon’s blog.

Monday
Apr052010

100 Characters of Pixar infographic

100 Characters of Pixar is a cool scale infographic showing the relative heights and sizes of the characters from the Pixar movies and shorts.  I found a couple of errors, but the idea and execution are great.  I’ve read before that a great character can be recognized in silhouette, and this is a great tribute to the guys at Pixar.

Found on Flickr, the image is designed by Juan Pablo Bravo

Thursday
Feb042010

The Scale of the Universe

Check out this great flash animation, The Scale of the Universe, by Fotoshop in his portfolio on NewGrounds.com.  Like one of those infinite zoom images, this flash animation lets you zoom from 1x10-35 to 9.3x1026 by dragging the scroll bar across the bottom.

Since I’m visual, that’s from 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001 meters (the Plank Length) up to 930,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters (the estimated size of the universe).

 

Found on Forgetomori.com

Thursday
Jan282010

Circular Browser Statistics using Axiis

Michael VanDaniker posted this Historical Browser Statistics visual as part of the launch of Axiis, including the detail about what it took to develop this visual.  At its root, this is a timeline that starts at the center (January 2002) and works outward to the outer ring that represents the most recent time slice (August 2009).  Each ring is a stacked bar showing the portion of browser usage.

Each of the concentric rings are essentially pie charts showing the percentage of visitors using each browser for a particular time slice, starting with January 2002 in the center and working out to August 2009.  The numbers on W3schools.com don’t quite add up to 100% because they don’t report on browsers that make up less than 0.5% of their visitors.  This results in a gap at the end of each ring.

I don’t know much about Axiis (yet…), but its a new, open source framework for data visualizations.

Thanks to Les (@lesjames on Twitter) for the link!

Monday
Jan112010

The Caffeine Poster, How Much Caffeine Are You Drinking? [new infographic]

 

You are what you drink.  With so many drinks today claiming to be “energy drinks”, I wanted a little visual clarification, so I made The Caffeine Poster.  With coffee drinks on one side and canned cold drinks on the other, you can quickly see how much of a caffeine “hit” (in mg) you will get after consuming.  What’s especially interesting is many of the drinks have a very high caffeine mg/oz ratio, but the drink is so small you don’t get that much total caffeine.

 

I’ve been working on my own infographic for 6 months now off-and-on when I can make time.  I figured that I’ve been running this infographic blog for a few years now, it’s time to start putting up my own work.  Most of the data visualization I’ve designed are confidential to the company I make them for, so I wanted to create some infographics that I can publish on the blog.

 

The Caffeine Poster is supposed to help with one decision in your life.  If you’re going to grab a caffeine drink during the day (or evening), which drink should you consume?  I tried to stay focused on telling one story really well.  I’ve heard from others that this may make for a really good infographic, but may not make a great poster because a good poster would have a much deeper level of detail.  I like it, and we’ll see what king of responses I get.

 

I absolutely want to hear your feedback.  Please add your comments below or send me a note.  What do you think?  I’ve also got requests to print and offer this as a poster.  We’ll see if there is enough interest…

Also, I’m planning to post as “Making-of” article on what it took to create this infographic.

 

Making-Of The Caffeine Poster - Part 1

Making-Of The Caffeine Poster - Part 2

Making-Of The Caffeine Poster - Part 3

 

THANKS: A big thanks to Fast Company for posting about The Caffeine Poster on the Fast Company blog.  The Caffeine Poster was the most popular story of the week on Fast Company! 

 

You are what you drink!

Tuesday
Jan052010

Twitter Territory: A Different Twitter Map

Twitter Territory is a different kind of Twitter map made in collaboration between designer Mike Wirth and Shannon Sweetser from HubSpot.com.  Made using HubSpot’s data from Twitter Grader, the map shows how people in all 50 states compare to the national average grade of 66 (which is an D, isn’t it?).

I think this is a great use of HubSpot’s data, and the map is a great way to introduce people to the Twitter Grader for the first time.  As a social media marketing tool, now all Shannon has to do is sit back and hope people blog and Tweet about it.  Oh wait…I just did.

I also noticed that @MikeWirth (91) and @Shannon (98.1) both get A’s!  Great job!

Friday
Dec182009

Word Spectrums! The Online Infographic Battleground



On Chris Harrison's site, there are a number of graphics that he calls Word Spectrums.  More like a battleground, Chris is using the enormous amount of data from websites that has been made public by Google.  This is an advanced form of a word cloud that visualizes related words and their relative connections to the two topics.  (FYI, since this is based on raw Google data, foul language does appear in some of them).


Using Google's enormous bigram dataset, I produced a series of visualizations that explore word associations. Each visualization pits two primary terms against each other. Then, the use frequency of words that follow these two terms are analyzed. For example, "war memorial" occurs 531,205 times, while "peace memorial" occurs only 25,699. A position for each word is generated by looking at the ratio of the two frequencies. If they are equal, the word is placed in the middle of the scale. However, if there is a imbalance in the uses, the word is drawn towards the more frequently related term. This process is repeated for thousands of other word combinations, creating a spectrum of word associations. Font size is based on a inverse power function (uniquely set for each visualization, so you can't compare across pieces). Vertical positioning is random.


Chris has created and shared a number of different versions on the Word Spectrum page of his website, and you can see high-resolutions PDFs of each there.

Want to try your own?  Building on Chris' idea, Jeff Clark from Neoformix has created interactive Word Spectrums using either Twitter or News as the source that lets you enter your own terms to compete.  I especially like the idea of pitting two competing brands against one another.




Wednesday
Dec092009

Bill Nye Videos on the Scale of the Solar System

Two videos from Bill Nye the Science Guy showing the size and scale of the planets and the Sun.  He may have done similar examples, but these are the two I know about.  The one above (Planets & Moon) starts at about 4:00 into the video, and the one below (Outer Space) starts at about 2:00.  "Outer Space is HUGE!"

Thanks to @DannyDougherty on Twitter for sharing!