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What are Interactive Infographics?


Interactive infographics are representations of information that allow the viewer to interact with the data. As such, they’re in a different league from static infographics. They take programming to create, they usually have a lot more data, and they allow the viewer to discover things on their own.


Interactive infographics allow users to explore a dataset for themselves -- often by providing details on mouseover, giving different coordinated views, or panning and zooming. Unsurprisingly, some of the best interactive infographics have been created by the Interactive or online departments of major news organizations, and they tend to take advantage of modern web browsers.


For example, the CNN Ecosphere explores the potential of WebGL for data visualization with some beautiful results. The interactive infographic is also live, pulling in current Twitter data. You can use a hashtag or add your own tweet to the mix and see your opinion grow on a tree.


Data Centric Universe shows just how far our knowledge of our universe has come. There are only two time samples, but this works very well for the interactive infographic. The main story is to show the contrast between what we knew in 1950 and what we know in 2011.


Data with many categories can be particularly good candidates for interactive infographics. Often times the overlap and connections between the data cannot be conveyed through a static infographic. Trends In Higher Education, for example, does a great job of allowing the viewer to navigate many different categories and make sense of them all.


Data that change over time also benefit from interactivity. Posted: US Growth Visualized Through Post Offices uses a time range slider at the bottom of the infographic and is a great example of filtering in visualization.


An extremely interesting interactive infographic focuses on the rumors that spread on Twitter during the London riots of 2011. Riot Rumors does a fantastic job of showing how these rumors were born, spread, and were corrected on one of the fastest social networks around. Not only did the team do great analysis, but the interactive infographic calls out some pivotal events in the timeline of each rumor. As the timeline progresses, the main visualization grows and changes like popcorn, showing the interaction of different rumor threads.


The effort involved in creating an interactive infographic is much higher, so many of them are very good. Luckily, web-based data visualization tools are making it easier to create interactive infographics, but they still require effort -- especially when multiple datasets are being compared.

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