I’d always been fascinated by infographics as a child, mostly from looking through tabloid
newspapers where they were used to visualise the differences between things like armed forces and the number of submarines the UK has, versus fighter jets in the USA etc. Using pictures icons and simple charts allowed us take a simple fact or figure and rather than bury it in confusing sentences, made it easy for anyone to quickly interpret and understand. As a child they were a brilliant way to engage me in a fact or a topic that I might otherwise have chosen to ignore on the way to the cartoon section!
Roll forward 10 or 15 (Or 20) years and I’m getting my hit via magazines like Wired when
the first wave of internet hysteria has hit, and instead of comparing missiles and tanks,
we can visualise IPO sizes, or a breakdown of internet access speeds around the world.
It’s all very much designer based at this point though – These visualisations are basically
static images that take a designer time and effort to put together, and finding that balance
between making information engaging and useful to the reader, but not overloading them
with information to the point where they might as well have read a text based article, is the challenge.
Infographics are now BIG. In a world of information overload we need our data fast,
easy, and in manageable chunks. Importantly we are at a point where they are becoming
increasingly social and the need to SHARE what we find is of prime importance. Keep an eye on social media sites and there is not a day that goes by where the latest news in social is not being summarised via an infographic. We have a number of start-up’s in the field that are taking the amazingly open API’s provided by Facebook and Twitter, and using them to crunch and summarise the information that social networking users openly provide, to tell us more about ourselves and the people we connect with.
I’d worked with the Facebook and Twitter API’s on a website project I’d worked on a few
months back, where I needed to find a way to post on a user’s wall, or feed. After a
little digging around I realised that I could take this data and use a variety of amazing
technologies and tools out there (mostly free) to query and visualise data, to let someone
find out more about themselves and their social networks in a fun and interesting way. I
wanted to create something that would make someone laugh or smile, but also something
that would have genuine value – even if only for a few moments. A truly personalised
“With great power, comes great responsibility” as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once said. As a
Facebook and Twitter developer I know that the last thing I wanted was an app running
on a foreign web server somewhere while I was sleeping, constantly analysing my data,
reading my friends lists and doing a lot of things that my own mother would scold me for
doing. So I set out from the get go to create something that only summarised the data
it was crunching, but did not store much more than what I was going to be showing our
users. Finally, I wanted to make sharing this information with my friends and social contacts something that I had a clear choice about.
So we created getabout.me – It’s deliberately as simple as possible. No registration forms or complex instructions. You just log in with your Facebook account. You get one infographic you can create for ‘free’, or if you ‘like’ us from the same page you unlock another two instantly. One more click and that’s it! After you’ve generated your infographic report(s) you can choose to share (or un-share) with your social contacts with another single click.
We hope you have as much fun using getabout.me, as we had building it for you.