Is anti-infographic sentiment tipping? Or is it just the holidays?
Remember the first infographic you saw? You probably didn’t call it an infographic then. It was just a subway map. Or a chart in USA Today. But something happened at the end of the last decade, and now all images with some sort of data is called an infographic, and suddenly infographics are everywhere.
As with any trend, there are detractors of infographics, and as the popularity of the medium skyrocketed at the end of 2011, so did anti-infographic sentiment.
The backlash isn’t against all infographics altogether, just the really bad ones, which some would argue is most of them. Grace Dobush of HOW Interactive Design gives you 5 reasons to think twice before firing up Adobe Illustrator, chief of which is that “many infographics are just plain bad:”
Idon’t want to name names. But sometimes I just don’t know what people were thinking—some situations just don’t call for infographics. (However infographics that are intentionally meaningless, like Chad Hagen’s, can be quite awesome.)
Gizmodo‘s Jesus Diaz calls bad infographics ”abominations,” “monstrosities,” “atrocities” and “graphical disgraces that most often disguise spam, commissioned by iniquitous companies looking to increase traffic to their sites.”
The bad infographic plague
So is that the problem? Most infographics we see are just another form of spam for marketers? And spam is inherently bad?
Or is the problem with infographics that most of them are presenting bad information? Megan McArdle says that 95% of the data in wrong. In her piece in the Atlantic, “Ending the Infographic Plague,” McArdle warns against the impending bad infographic pandemic: “The reservoir of this disease of erroneous infographics is internet marketers who don’t care whether the information in their graphics is right … just so long as you link it.” She goes on to break down and fact check some of the high profile infographics on the web, all of which are just plain bogus.
But if they’re so bad, why do we love to click and share infographics so much? Developer and champion of HTML Kevin Marks blames Facebook and Google+ for making images so prevalent on shared links:
By showing a preview of the image, the item is given extra weight over a textual link; indeed even for a url link, Facebook and G+ will show an image preview by default.
Infographics and the Holidays
Is this backlash harming the popularity of infographics? It’s hard to tell. According to Google Trends, interest in infographics dropped off by the end of December. But look at what happened in 2011 after the 2010 December dip…