Archive for the ‘Visualisations’ Category

Infographic Investigated – Style over Substance

August 1, 2013 1 comment

A look at the data behind a recent infographic that did the rounds on Twitter. Not quite what it seems.

I love infographics. They just look so darn good. And yet… I’ve always been quite sceptical about them, so today I’ve dissected one of this week’s popular infographics to see what’s behind it. Quite revealing.

You may have seen the infographic – it’s about students’ use of smartphones.  JISC was one of many that tweeted it to their network:

Screenshot of JISC Tweet

The original infographic was created by The Snugg, a company that sells smartphone & tablet covers & the infographic appeared in a post Students spend their lives wired in to their phones on 13th June. However the tweets I read this week were all linking to a 17th July post This Is How Students Actually Use Smartphones on Edudemic, a US education & technology site which offers “tools, tips, resources, visuals, and guest posts” and claims 1 million visitors a month.

UK or not UK? Students?

The reason this infographic caught my eye was that the Edudemic post stated it was about UK students and this was highlighted in several of the tweets. The infographic & the Snugg post includes money in £s and refers to UK phone networks. BUT when you delve deeper the source data is actually a mix of US & UK data and not all about students.

Data Sources

The Snugg infographic includes a list of sources. Handy. As it’s an image, the links are not clickable and some are a pain to type. Not so handy.

SNUGG Infograph

Unfortuanately one of the sites (3. below) is unavailable. This is a shame as the other 4 sources appear to contribute very little to the infographic.

  1. As the URL shows this is a 2011 article. Click through and you’ll see it’s a 7 question survey of 100 1st & 2nd students. I can’t find any of this data in the infographic, in fact it seems to contradict it but then it is 2-years old! 😉
  2. This is a market research report by IDC on behalf of Facebook. It’s a survey of 7,446 US smartphone owners, aged 18-44 undertaken in March 2013. Note the age. The report includes some 18-24 data but IDC state that 18-24 year olds were under-represented. No mention of students. The data at the top of the infographic about how quickly 18-24 year olds reach for their smartphone comes from here. That seems to be all.
  3. This site is currently unavailable. Potentially the main source of the infographic. I’ve not been able to find out much about Colorado’s Digital Media Test Kitchen (there’s a 2011 article and they posted on Facebook in May 2012). It’s possible that the survey is from 2010 as I found this reference (see [15]) that refers to a survey with a similar URL. But impossible to know. Given that it’s based in Boulder Colorado it seems more likely that this is US data. Update 5/8/2013 – See comment below from Emma Tonkin. It is a 2010 survey and I’m struggling to see how it informs the infographic.
  4. This post is based on a 2012 student finance survey of 2,219 UK university students. The only figure I can spot in the infographic that comes from here is the £24 a month spend on mobile phones.
  5. My favourite ‘source’. A discussion post. Doesn’t appear to contribute to the infographic (other than as a source!). Thankfully.

I’ve always been sceptical of this kind of technology / social media infographic but the lack of data behind this one has really surprised me, although until I see the testkitchen survey I should reserve full judgement…

Update 5/8/2013 – having now browsed the archived site of testkitchen’s 2010 survey I think I can conclude that:

  • Hardly any of the information in the infographic comes from the cited sources – I make it 2 items.
  • The only item in the infographic from a cited source about UK students is that they spend £24 a month on mobile phone (2012).

Another quick search this morning  tells me that the real source of some of this data appears to be a 2011 survey done at the University of Sheffield!!/file/mobilesurvey2011.pdf

I reckon infographic investigation would make a great student activity.

Power of the Retweet

July 20, 2010 1 comment

It’s easy to forget how things are changing. Today I showed a great diagram I’d found to thousands of people!  3 years ago I might have emailed that diagram to a handful of people that I work directly with.

It all began yesterday afternoon when I came across a picture in a report:

There were a couple of retweets immediately  (the re-posting of another person’s tweet to share it with your own Twitter followers).  Then this morning, a retweet by @josiefraser (who has 6000+ followers) initiated several further retweets.

The final results according tweetreach were that a potential 19, 207 people had seen the tweet which compares with the potential 821 followers of my account.  It’s important to stress the potentially here as many tweets pass by in the stream unseen, plus the Twittersphere is full of abandoned accounts & so on. Even so, it’s very different from an email to a closed network.

Tweetreach screengrab (Graph of Tweet 'Exposure')

Looking at the reach of the retweets I was surprised to see how little overlap there is between the networks of those involved.  Of the 19000+ who might have seen one of the 24 tweets only 3285 saw it multiple times.  I’d wrongly assumed that there would be a much larger overlap between the followers of the likes of @josiefraser & @timbuckteeth

Jinging and clogging

May 6, 2009 2 comments

This morning I spotted a couple of tools that I thought I should try and I’m glad I did because I quite like them both, although with some reservations.  The two services are Amplify & Jing.  Watch this video created with Jing for a brief intro to both. (Sorry, WordPress won’t let me embed, so click the image!)

Jing Website

Jing is a free service from, the makers of the popular screen capture software Camtasia.  Capturing and publishing are pretty straightforward, once you know how – I did struggle to find things initially!  The free service (not suprisingly I guess) restricts your storage (2GB) and your monthly bandwidth (how much you upload, also 2GB) so there are limits.  The above 2-min recording used up 7.5MB of my allowance (not quite 1%). I will definitely be using it again for videoing and will be interested to see whether storage becomes an issue.   For images I imagine I’ll stick with my long time friend MWSnap

Amplify uses the WordPress blogging platform and is a spin-off from Clipmarks. On the whole it worked well for me, although it can be a bit fiddly clipping the bit you want, especially if there is a link involved – it’s easy to click the link rather than clip the link!! The blogging side of it was great (it’s wordpress!) and it’s very easy to tweet what you clog…  oh dear.  I used my Amplify Clip Blog today to create a collection of posts on e-Learning coverage on various HEA Subject Centres that are relevant to the LSE.  I don’t think I’ll be using Amplify again as a personal tool (except to review today’s work!) but I can see it could make a great tool for a digital literacy or other teaching activity.  For now, I’ll be sticking with Diigo / Delicious and my memory of what I liked on the page!

Both worth some of your time.

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Turn Your Name Into a Face

October 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Turn Your Name Into a Face does what it says!  Thanks to @AJCann on Twitter for this, which makes this my Tweet of (Yester)day. The site also includes a link to bomomo which I enjoyed playing with…

Mad Rattling

Mad Rattling

Matthew Lingard

Matthew Lingard

Matt Lingard

Matt Lingard

Dippy Timelines

July 9, 2008 3 comments

Thanks to Brian Kelly on Twitter for this one. Dipity: a tool for creating timelines.  You can add your own events manually or use external feeds – blog posts, your YouTube videos etc.  Here’s a simple one with some of my holiday snaps from Flickr.  Not very up-to-date as i’m usually at least six months behind in getting my photos online…

Timeline image

I couldn’t get the timeline to embed here but if you click the image you’ll get to see the real thing.  For another (better) example take a look at Brian’s original Dipity post.

My example is set so that only I can edit it but you can open it up to others for some collaborative timelining!

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Wordle Tag Clouds

July 2, 2008 1 comment

Wordle is a great tool for creating attractive tag clouds. It allows you to start with your own text (e.g. pasted from a word file),  or any page incorporating a feed such as a blog or a (social bookmarking) account.  The top left Wordle is this blog, the bottom left my and the final one is my master’s dissertation.  It’s never looked so good!

I found this in Ed Techie via actualal on Twitter.