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JMM 622: The Functional Art (Ch. 7 & 8)

Alberto Cairo’s Chapter 7 of The Functional Art (Images in the Head) taught me how images we have in our heads may often be a burden when reading and analyzing infographics. That’s why an infographic must have the appropriate designs and features and must be well thought out before putting them out in the world for people to analyze and interpret.

This American Airlines’ emergency card shows a lot of fear in the man’s expression, which may cause many unnecessary emotions and/or reactions in the people boarding the American Airlines flight. Personally, I would be afraid and I wouldn’t continue reading the card or I wouldn’t pay much attention to the rest of the information because my energy would be focused on the man’s distress. I would focus my energy on trying to get out of the plane safely. In my opinion, this is a poorly executed visualization.

In the figure above, we can see Professor Cairo’s face with different levels of abstraction. By using different levels of abstraction, we might help prevent the reader’s brain to waste any time by pausing to analyze someone’s face in illustrations like the one above.

Professor Cairo mentions that because someone might recognize the person in the illustration, then they won’t be as stuck to all the other information that is presented, so much as they’ll be stuck to the image of the person they recognize.

In Chapter 8 (Creating Information Graphics), Professor Cairo teaches us that the best way to create a visualization may be to build your data on the spot. Professor Cairo gives his readers a few steps to follow:

  • Define the focus of the graphic
  • Gather the maximum amount of information about your topic
  • Choose the best graphic form (personally one of the hardest steps for me because I feel like there are way too many options)
  • Complete your research
  • Think about the visual style you want your graphics to have
  • Digitize your work (if you’ve been sketching offline/on paper like I do)

To me – as I would assume to most other people as well – the canonization of saints is a complex process and is something unknown.

As I’ve come to understand with Professor Cairo’s class, a complicated story is often best understood when explained with images and infographics. Arranging the graphs in the right places brings a lot of clarity to someone who doesn’t have the desire of spending hours reading a book to understand a complex topic.

In the graphic above, an example of how the canonization process works is shown. Popes throughout history and how many saints each pope has canonized is also shown, which is truly interesting.

We can also see through this infographic where Catholics live and how Brazil paves the way in the highest number of Catholics per nation, as well as the percentage (%) of people who declare themselves Catholic.

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