Reading a surprising statistic can stop you in your tracks and make you think. However, seeing that statistic brought to life visually can introduce another dimension of comprehension and poignancy. That’s why data visualization is such a powerful tool for telling many stories. And when it comes to those stories that could start to shift our world if given the chance? In that case, the extra edge that visuals provide becomes all the more vital. It can mean the difference between an audience hearing your story or completely ignoring it. So today, in the midst of a pandemic and a civil rights revolution, it may be time for your organization to turn to infographic designs and visual communication in service of paradigm-shifting stories.
Here are just some of the ways creators are using the platform of visual communication to influence, inform, and drive change.
Social Media for Civil Rights & Racial Equity Education
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Have you ever heard of the brown paper bag test? It's one of the many forms of institutionalized racism that carried on post-slavery. Colorism is still practiced around the world today to determine socioeconomic status of those with darker complexions. Swipe to learn more, and I've included Google search terms for those who'd like to dive deeper into this topic 🙏🏾
Coach and educator Gloria Atanmo (also known as Glo) produces graphics for her Twitter (@gl0) and Instagram (@glographics) feeds. Since the murder of George Floyd in May, she has dedicated her accounts to tackling racism. She helps shed light on racism from a Black perspective, dispelling myths, and educating followers on what to change in their lives and how to help, particularly for white and non-Black people of color. Glo leverages the services of infographic elements such as data visualization, icons, illustrations, and dynamic typography in her posts. This technique emphasizes and draws attention to the key information. The result? Highly informative, highly shareable bite-sized graphics that push for a more thorough understanding of racism and the Black experience.
Interactive Infographic in Service of Public Health
Misinformation and confusion abound when it comes to the novel coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19. Reports can be found stating numbers are rising at the same time others can be found to show them falling. Of course, this depends on the location, the timeliness of the data, and whether the data is cumulative or exclusively reporting cases, hospitalizations, or deaths within a specific timeframe. Yet, most viewers crave a simple way to understand what’s really happening.
The above piece from Tableau is an example of clear data visualization. It’s broken down on the global, US, state, and county level, including new daily cases and deaths; viral spread; and geographical density. With a cadence of daily updates and Johns Hopkins University’s own COVID tracking as the stated data source (which states its own sources below its map), this interactive infographic service feels like a reliable and informative source of updated information.
Visual Communication Combating Fake News
In recent years, the term “fake news” has become ubiquitous in our conversations about divisive issues. Cornell University describes its typical meaning as information that appears to be true and often “verified” by the media, but is misleading or altogether false, and may be intended to deceive. However, the term is also sometimes used by an individual or media source simply to label something they disagree with as “fake.”
Facebook has begun to track and censor fake news. Sites such as Snopes.com dispel both lighthearted myths and more serious instances of fake news, while also verifying cases in which suspected fake news is revealed to be true. And similarly, it was our goal to achieve the same when we launched the Numbers to Unite initiative shown above in 2017. We used data visualization to explain controversial or misunderstood factual data, as well as to help people more easily identify fake news. This skill is vital in today’s world. Why? Because incomplete or incorrect information can endanger individuals, campaigns, organizations, and even entire populations.
In service of the identification and elimination of fake news as well as the amplification of accurate content, all companies and individuals should use what they have at their disposal — whether fact-checkers, data visualization, infographics, videos, or something else entirely — to highlight vital information. In this way, we can each support a future of confident, informed communities.