Education Illustrated

| October 27, 2010

I’ve commented on another talk by Sir Ken Robinson before…

But now he’s been given a makeover by RSA Animate. Very cool to see what they’ve done. But here’s my question: does it strike you that it is much more difficult to follow his presentation when they lay it all out for us? Indeed, if you actually watch and listen to him speak—say in that video from the previous post—you can see that he has no trouble at all holding the room and conveying his thought.

It’s not that I’m against visualizations. Quite the opposite. But I think this is a perfect example of what happens if it is simply laid over top of things, without integrating it into the experience itself.

What we wind up with is a great deal of visual noise, trying to process something that is unfolding in two mediums simultaneously. And if you really examine the graphics, they are, as Edward Tufte might say, essentially chart junk. They are low information, yet relatively high detail. Which makes it fun to watch, but in order to sort out that they are not telling us much we have to pay very close attention. This is, I might argue, illustration at it’s worst. (In a way, precisely because they do such a nice job of it.)

Contrast that, with this excellent video, in which the illustrations actually augment the point, helping to orient and give a reference for what is being discussed:

What say ye? I’m curious what people think. Chime in with your thoughts!