Infographics and Visualizations as Tools For the Mind | Visualisation |
Designing an infographic or a data visualization is an act of engineering. Does this idea sound strange to you? Sometimes it does when I present it in lectures and classes. Many people tend to think that I am indulging in some sort of vague game of metaphors, but I am not. I say it quite literally. I believe that an infographic is a tool in a very similar way that hammers, saws, and screwdrivers are tools: They are instruments we devise and build to extend our capacities beyond their natural limits, to accomplish feats that would be extremely difficult — or even impossible — if tried without their aid. We humans are natural-born cyborgs. We are used to getting raw materials from the environment (whether that’s iron and wood, or information and data) and giving them shapes that are adapted to certain goals or tasks.

Think about it this way: Tools are not always actual objects designed to help us with physical activities. A notebook, whether it is a Moleskine or an Evernote digital document, is a tool that expands our memory. A digital calculator, whether it is an inexpensive machine bought in the nearest Dollar Tree or an app downloaded to your iPhone, frees you from the burden of having to retain and execute many complex mathematical algorithms. Non-physical tools (or sets of tools and practices), such as statistics and the scientific method, evolved to let us gaze beyond what we would normally see, and to overcome our deepest biases and lazy habits of mind. The same is true for great visual displays of information...

Via Lauren Moss