The Design of Information

Information Design

Posts in the ‘Process Illustration’ Category

Cloud-based Copyright Clearance

I worked with MediaX at Stanford University to illustrate the process for clearing copyrighted materials developed by the Stanford Intellectual Property Exchange (SIPX). Their system removes obstacles to the proper licensing of content in a similar way that iTunes made it easier for us to download music legally.

SIPX poster

SIPX poster awardThe poster we created together won the Best of Show and People’s Choice awards at the recent New Media Consortium conference held in Boston at MIT. I have always been leery of design awards, but it is nice to receive some recognition now and then, especially if it gives my clients some helpful publicity. You can read a full article explaining the effort, along with a video showing some of the good people I worked with, on the New Media Consortium website.

Visualizing Complexity

The work I enjoy most is divided pretty evenly between two things: visualizing complex data and visualizing complex systems. Both are trying to get at truth through some degree of abstraction.

Choosing the right type of chart for your data should be a thoughtful process and may, at times, requires some creative thinking, but choosing the right format for showing a system can be a lot less straightforward. There is seldom just one right way to depict a system. I find myself grappling with how position, shape, size and color might give meaning to different viewers in different contexts – not to mention line weight, arrow style, iconography, etc. Developing a consistent visual language can be a challenge, but it pays dividends, especially in a series of related diagrams.

Despite the complexity, or maybe because of it, I find great satisfaction in discovering simple solutions that are true and understandable. The best diagrams often feel simple and obvious when they are done. Which means that people who weren’t part of the process don’t look at the result and say “Wow, that’s amazing! How did you do that!”

Which makes it a little harder to show examples and have people appreciate what went into the image they are seeing, but I’ll show a few anyway. Here are some examples from work done for Palo Alto Networks.

Their large scale VPN technology:
Palo Alto Networks VPN

And their Panorama technology:

Palo Alto Networks Panorama

This blog is focused on information design, the creation of infographics for visual understanding of complex processes, data and ideas.

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