is a pretty swish new online service to easily make infographics. You can enter or upload data and use or edit the templates to create some quite beautifully designed infographics from your data. Now there is no excuse for those awful charts in Powerpoint (or Keynote for that matter).

Onlab’s Animated Infographic for the Audi Urban Future Summit

Audi Urban Future Summit from onlab on Vimeo.

onlab produced a lovely animation for the Audi Urban Future Summit at the Frankfurt international motor show. It’s often hard to get across abstract concepts of future services and this accomplishes it very well. From Onlab’s site:

The animation explains the implications of three types of energies that were examined on the summit: ‘Energies of Data’, ‘Energies of Social Relations’ and ‘Energies of Resources’. The complex interrelations and abstract visions are narrated by means of simple scenes and playful elements.

I like the fact they included some shots of their storyboards, complete with scribbles. It’s always interesting to see the transition from page to screen.

Confusing Information with the Form

Information from MAYAnMAYA on Vimeo.

Lovely video from design and research consultancy MAYA on the difference between information and the form we give it.

I came across this on David Sherwin’s ChangeOrder blog in a post about moving beyond words for better brainstorming, which is also and interesting article. He asks why it is so hard to break people out of their regular ideation habits. Words are one problem, but it is also an issue of corporate and company culture, even within design agencies.

The rules of brainstorming are pretty much the opposite of what a usual business culture is. Working in a company that has a traditional hierarchy encourages sniping, competitive, uncooperative, pressured and role-based behaviour. It’s the way people “fight to the top”, create “creative competition” and so on.

It’s very hard to convince people to take suspending those habits seriously if they’re not taken seriously at a company culture level and we have come to consider that the normal way of working. Companies like IDEO or Pixar spend a lot of time and effort on not working this way. It’s no surprise that they are successful in this area and why so many other companies fail to bring ‘innovation’ into their culture, despite bringing in consultants who specialise in ‘innovation training’ or whatever the latest business buzzword is. The consultants, of course, are temporary blips, outside the main culture of the company, so easily dismissed after they have gone.

Much like MAYA’s video, you have to re-think what it is and means to work together, what the purpose and idea of a company is to really change its culture. A company is the form given to a group of people working together, but it is by no means the only, nor the best, form.

Little Red Riding Hood, Infographics Style

You have to admire the Swedish ability to indoctrinate their students with brilliant design skills.

The above Little Red Riding Hood piece by Toma Nilsson was for a college project, inspired by the Röyskopp videos and got tweeted all over the place in the last couple of weeks.

I know plenty of experienced professional designers who would love to have made that (including me), damn the man! If any of my students are reading this – that’s what I’ll be expecting at the end of the semester, okay?

Sprint’s Now Machine Data Overload


In keeping with the seemingly American obsession that more data one has the better (especially on TV), Sprint have launched a viral campaign called the Now Machine Widget.

Kottke says, “I don’t know what this is or how it works or why Sprint is involved, but man is it fun to just let the data just wash over you.” It’s kind of fascinating, but also a totally overblown data overload and the kind of thing that would be unusable in any practical sense. (I often wonder how traders manage to spread their attention across so many screens. My guess is it is an illusion and that they can’t – it just stops them having to bring different windows to the front.)

The design of the Now Machine was by Mike Kellogg for Goodby, Sliverstein & Partners.

(Via Kottke via Airbag).

Night of the Living Maps


Apart from last night’s making of history it was a night of interactive maps gone wild.

The BBC’s virtual studio 3D environment was replete with sounds of steel shutters opening and closing as the graphics changed, which gave me flashbacks of The Day Today. Wired have a good selection of other overblown 3D madness. (Can’t believe Wired Gadgets Lab used the term ‘gee-whiz Tech’).

CNN (above) went for multi-touch action with John King zooming in and out of detail and pulling up man-on-the-street video clips. The strange, meta-media, thing here was that the cameras then zoomed into the clip playing on the multitouch screen rather than cutting directly to it. King would then get rid of a clip by tossing it off of the top of the screen. King was keen to show off – quote of the evening: “I want to show you a new feature of the map – let me hit Hispanics here…”

I couldn’t face watching CNN’s ‘Situation Room’ coverage long enough to see if it went wrong (I mean, come on, Situation Room? Pricks.).

Kottke has a gathered a selection of online election maps and it’s a good lesson in information design styles. NetLab’s Kazys Varnelis and Leah Meisterlin have written an in-depth piece on Adobe’s Think Tank site about this shift into intelligent maps and what it means for designers.

“The choice of what to show and how to show not only impacts appearance, it can reframe arguments.”

Of course, maps always have been about framing and re-framing.

The online U.S. Election 2008 map I found clearest and most insightful is from The New York Times.


The Exit Polls Map is particularly good, especially when you set it to size the bars according to size of the electorate revealing just how much minority and female votes had a massive impact. Sliding through the years is enlightening too.

Naturally this trend has brought some good parody too – see Stephen Spielberg Presents John King and a Saturday Night Live skit.

[UPDATE: The Onion just posted How to Understand the Election Map]

But none of them beat Alan Partridge trying to explain the ’94 World Cup system on The Day Today: