“Infographic” (or also “information graphics”) are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.
If we go and explore the history of infographics, we have to go back in 1626, when Christoph Scheiner published the Rosa Ursina sive Sol, a book that revealed his research about the rotation of the sun; Infographics appeared in the form of illustrations demonstrating the Sun’s rotation patterns.
Since then, other historical figures utilized these forms of infographics, such as William Playfair, an engineer and political economist, who published the first data graphs in his book The Commercial and Political Atlas. To represent the economy of 18th Century England, Playfair used statistical graphs, bar charts, line graphs and histograms. In his work, Statistical Breviary, he is credited with introducing the first area chart and pie chart.
In his 1983 ‘landmark book’ The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte defines ‘graphical displays’ in the following passage:
“Graphical displays should:
show the data; induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production or something else; avoid distorting what the data have to say; present many numbers in a small space; make large data sets coherent; encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure; serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration; be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set.”
Tufte’s 1983 definition still speaks, in a broad sense, to what infographics are, and what they do—which is to condense large amounts of information into a form where it will be more easily absorbed by the reader.
We can say that infographics was born aproximetly in this period but it contiued its development in time until our days.
Infographics have been around for many years and recently the proliferation of a number of easy-to-use, free tools have made the creation of infographics available to a large segment of the population. This happened thanks to:
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have also allowed for individual infographics to be spread among many people around the world.
In newspapers, infographics are commonly used to show the weather, as well as maps, site plans, and graphs for statistical data.
Some books are almost entirely made up of information graphics, such as David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work.
The Snapshots in USA Today are also an example of simple infographics used to convey news and current events.
Modern maps, especially route maps for transit systems, use infographic techniques to integrate a variety of information, such as the conceptual layout of the transit network, transfer points, and local landmarks. Public transportation maps, such as those for the Washington Metro and the London Underground, are well-known infographics. Public places such as transit terminals usually have some sort of integrated “signage system” with standardized icons and stylized maps.
According to Google Trend (a public web facility of Google Inc), approximately since 2011, the percent of people who researched the infographics have increased from 2 to 15 while now days, in 2014 the number of researches have increased to 100.