I admire the work of infographic artists in processing and structuring huge amounts of data. I think many such presentations, especially the interactive ones, are terrific in empowering readers (users?) to slice and dice data.
Some infographics are produced by people who probably see themselves as artists first, and the charts as objects of art. (Diagrams of network structure come to mind.) That's fine, too. And I can appreciate them as if I am in MoMA.
Some infographics are daunting works of blood and sweat. They make our jaws drop, we wonder how they did that. They remind us of the Great Wall of China, the pyramids, etc. The layers upon layers of details are there to dazzle us, to prove the point.
But I like my charts to tell me something important about the data. I want charts to be "self-sufficient". If readers must consult the raw data (printed on the chart) in order to get the message, then all the graphical constructs (bars, dots, axes, etc.) are redundant!
In addition, I don't like to make readers do a lot of work. The task of extracting insights from the data should fall to the designer, not the readers.
That said, judging from the circulation of infographics on the Web, these displays clearly are popular so one can't argue with that.
What's your view of the state of infographics? Love it or hate it?
PS. Robert at EagerEyes made comments on this topic, likening visualization to a "cargo cult". He calls for drawing a line in the sand. My feeling, as outlined above, is that there could be different classes of infographics -- my personal interest is in those that contribute to effective communication but others may be interested in artistic rendering, story-telling and exploration, technical wizardry, etc.