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23 July 2014

'Our Futures' in text, image, and video

This tweet made me think about my recent blog post on infographics. It's from the Royal Society of NZ, and it shows a highlight from their report 'Our Futures'.
I'm going to take a look at the image, and then talk about the way the Royal Society presents the Our Futures project.

How well does the image work?

The ‘age pyramid’ style of diagram might be unfamiliar, but works well once you understand it. In this image, the key at the right helps a bit — showing the age range 0 years through to 85+ years and how gender is shown.

Showing both the 2013 and 2001 data is confusing if we want to focus on one main story. There are two stories here:
  • the difference between ethnic groups, indicated by the shape of each diagram — how wide it is, and how the width changes with age 
  • the changes between 2001 and 2013, indicated by the difference between the shaded areas and the lines. 
Focusing on one story at a time would make the diagram clearer — using two diagrams if both stories were important enough to keep. Focusing on only the 2013 data would also remove the need for the line/shading ‘year’ key.

Labelling the ethnicities directly means the reader doesn’t need a key for those — very clear.

Here’s a link to the whole infographic:

How does the Royal Society let us learn about the project? 

The ‘Our Futures’ project presents its findings in a carefully considered set of ways.
  • You can read the key findings on the main project page.
  • You can watch videos describing the project and discussing the findings.
  • You can read the detailed report.
  • You can read the infographic containing the diagram above.
The Royal Society also recorded a set of videos at the launch event, and held a photo competition.
This variety suits people with different objectives and different learning styles. I like it — a great way to get a wide range of people engaged in the project.

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