A theme in this class (and my Communications and Human Values class) has been deteriorating attention spans, an issue that has led to a generation who lives and breathes headlines because they are easier to digest. Well, that’s all well and good, but when you’re getting a few words on a complex topic, you aren’t effectively getting the main points of the argument. In short, there is danger in trying to simplify.
That’s why I am very pleased that people like Chart Girl exist. This is her website. It’s awesome.
We are now a people who love images, visuals, context, and knowing what is connected to what and whom is connected to whom. This is a product of the way we take in information, and probably also a need to distinguish the important and noteworthy from the cognitive surplus, as Clay Shirky so elegantly names it. When important (or entertaining) information comes together in a visually-pleasing, educational, comprehensive ways, it is a win for everyone. Chart Girl’s charts cover a variety of topics, from the various people running in the Boston mayoral race, to all of Taylor Swift’s trysts, to the various celebrities who have talked about the drug Molly, to the Westboro Baptist Church, to Sesame Street. This is the type of innovative use of our current information systems and time-spending inclinations that deserves attention. Check it out.