Tuesday 17 Jul 2018 | 17:42 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 17 Jul 2018 | 17:42 | SYDNEY

The future, in infographic form


Andrew Carr


17 May 2011 14:47

In the 1940s, Friedrich Hayek argued that one of the biggest advantages of market systems over centrally planned economies is that the former can better distribute information via the price signal.

I'm increasingly coming to the view that 21st century politics suffers a similar poor flow of information to that of centrally planned systems. That may seen odd in the age of the internet and claims of information overflow, but how many people went and looked at the Budget online or even watched/read the Treasurer's speech. Most Australians, even the political class, take their information about government actions from news stories, simply because it's quicker.

Words are still the currency of politics, but increasingly we need a more efficient form of access to information from official sources, a rhetorical ATM card, if you like.

All this is a long prelude to highlight a great piece on one of the pioneers of infographics. Unsurprisingly the Obama Administration is a heavy user of infographics, though few other governments seem willing to follow.

While many will resist it as a 'dumbing down' of politics, or want to commiserate the decline in the art of political rhetoric (as I do), infographics may help us get past some of the 'spin' and repetitive talking points of our current malaise. Infographics are a quicker form of communication than words, they are better suited to digital communication, and, importantly they are much easier to fact check.

Above, one of the first infographics in history, from 1869, showing Napoleon's troops invading Russia, suffering loses (the thinning of the line) and their eventual retreat.