Infographics and Personal PR
by Linda Goin

Infographics, or information graphics, are making a comeback across the Web. Have you thought about using an infographic for your resume? Linda explores this option in this article.

Infographics and Integrity

In a world filled with 140-character messages riddled with hashtags (Twitter), Facebook messages that are shortened by the "more" tag and blogs that cannot be more than 500 words long for fear of readerships' lack of attention, it makes sense that information graphics are making a comeback. Graphics are easy on the eye (for the most part) and can contain tons of information. But, do infographics indicate a 'dumbing down' of Internet readership, or does this resurgence of graphic information mean that writers and designers are becoming smarter?

Ok, that's a rhetorical question, with no answer expected. But, a revival of information graphics does mean that information contained in those graphics may or may not be relevant or correct – just the same as information contained in any blog, story or news report. And, the fact that this piece of information contains two sources of information – the facts and the graphic that represents those facts – means that any infographic producer needs to double down on the credibility of that piece of graphic news.

For example, take a look at this information graphic about worldwide usage of social networks:

Tell me, from the information you've gathered above, how you can rest assured that this information is correct? The only clue I have is that this graphic and its associated information was created by IBM through the site, Many Eyes. While IBM often is seen as reputable, the lack of citation also shows that IBM feels that this graphic does not deserve citations. In other words, where did IBM retrieve the information required to complete this map?

That map provides one simplistic example of how easily people can trust the information contained within an infographic. Perhaps the authority provided by a pretty graphic can push this illusion, but no matter...what I'm about to discuss is how you can use this illusion and more to push your skills into the public through infographics, too.

PS – you, too, can use Many Eyes to create visuals from data sets provided at that site, or upload your own data sets to create infographics.

Getting on Board the Infographic Train

If you are mesmerized by infographics and you know little about the history behind this form of visual communication, then make a quick visit to Wikipedia to gain some insight. Then, head to the library to find any books penned by Edward Tufte, a statistician and sculptor who concentrates on the validity and – on the other hand – the fallacy of many infographics.

The reason you need to know more about information graphics before you head into this realm is because, if you want to create this graphic communication genre, you need to know that you can add this skill to your resume. It might help, too, if you learn a bit more about statistics, as you cannot create an infographic without some knowledge in that field as well.

Don't freak out about the statistics part, especially if you already create databases. If you've "been there, done that," then you understand that collecting, analysing and interpreting data within those databases is, basically, a statistical practice. You are then, by all means of the definition, a mathematician as well as a designer.

You also can view some information graphics at sites that focus on those art forms. I'll list a few of those sites at the end of this article in the conclusion. In the meantime, I'm going to take you straight to one of those sites, Cool Infographics, where Randy Krum has created an article about infographic resumes.

Infographic resumes? Why didn't you think of that? What a great way for a designer to show off skills, mask weaknesses and create a graphic that also shows expertise? I'll walk you through a few of those resumes to explain what is great about these tools and what – if anything – could be added or detracted from this means of selling yourself to potential clients.

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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