Showing the Full Story

First: show it all. Then let people zoom into the pieces of information that interest them. A visual story can be overwhelming if it doesn’t provide some context.

A good background story makes it clear what information is found in what part of a product’s background.

This example makes excellent use of spacial relationships to put increasingly detailed information in context: and help the viewer understand that context in a visual way. Shown are 3 levels of zoom into a site for a symposium at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in the Netherlands. The keystrokes needed to zoom in and out of the information are a bit clunky, but the overall concept is an intriguing way to communicate layers of information.

overview of all information zoom level 2 zoom level 3

Such is the concept of transparency – a viewer should be able to access even the most minute details of data: It’s all part of the big picture.

Stuff has a Story

Story of Stuff Life CycleStuff goes into a factory

‘The story of stuff’ is an animation/video that strolls through the ‘big picture’ of the production/consumption life cycle.

Story of Stuff exposes the connections behind products (and really behind our whole economic system). It paints a relatively dreary outlook, and thereby inspires action. It has been out for a while, and fortunately they’ve recently added an update to the website now allows the start of an outlet for ideas on what a consumer can do about the situation. (An earlier version of the animation left out the last step “Another Way,” lacking details on what the everyday consumer can do about the situation.)

The visualization of the system is impeccable: Black & white sketched and stylized drawings with simple animation leave enough room for the viewer to get their own ideas and apply the concept to their own situation. When people can see the possibilities, they can more easily understand how their own everyday decisions impact the big picture. Story of Stuff does a great job at establishing that connection.