Let’s begin at the beginning
Infographics in Cochrane – what’s that supposed to mean? Well, it’s an idea. I could claim it as my own but I’m sure that there are many others who have had similar Heureka-moments years ago. For example, see this poster presented in Hyderabad. Also infographics as a whole have been around for centuries already. Especially when it comes to health issues, one has to mention Florence Nightingale’s elegant creation depicting causes of death in the Crimean war. So I stay well clear of declaring any originality in that department. What then is all the fuss about? My idea, or vision, or inspiring mental itch if you will, is that it would be really cool to have a visual format for presenting results of Cochrane reviews, something like an intuitive pictorial Plain Language Summary. As there aren’t ready off-the-shelf solutions, it is up to us cochranites to roll our sleeves and put something together ourselves. So, the second half of my idea is to leverage the enthusiasm of individuals, to lure likeminded people together and see what happens with a loosely defined target. Pretty much the same way Cochrane began in the first place.
Why should I keep reading?
I propose embracing a bravely anarchist approach where anyone can participate according to their interests and, to some degree, skills. This means no committees and only the bare minimum of steering. Wikipedia is perhaps the best living proof of the power of the hive mind. Why not try a similar model? Talking of proposals, who the hell am I anyway to be making any? Am I a designer? No. Am I journalist? No. I’m just an Average Joe Managing Editor plagued by curiosity. I harbor no delusions of joining the pantheon of design gods like David MacCandless who can do wonders already (see for yourself). I just want to see what we can come up with for Cochrane. Can we formulate some kinds of templates or iconography that Cochrane groups can then easily use to put together their own infographics? That’s what I want to find out.
Who exactly is doing what here?
To help me in this quest I’ve enlisted a number of Cochrane colleagues including CochraneTech (the propeller-heads) and the communications people (can’t think of a fitting stereotype to illustrate). Next I welcome YOU to join us. What we have agreed in our little coven so far is that we set up this blog as a sandbox, a common playground where any interested party can join in by commenting on posts and by posting their own improved versions. We now kick things off with a little something we put together earlier. I made a rough sketch and Jacob Riis from CochraneTech kindly made it look pretty. It tries to depict the main result of this Cochrane review and some supporting facts to better convince the reader. What do you think? Does it have the right things in it? Can you visualize risk in some better way? Should we stick to just the results? Please jump in and enter your comments below.
Is there a method in this madness?
The long term vision here is to push a few drafts through this anarchistic unplanned development process to be able to present the results at the annual Cochrane Colloquium in Vienna. Then later we can even run an experiment to compare PLS, podcasts and whatever visual delights we manage to whip up in terms of how people understand and recall their contents. There’s already similar project afoot in Aberdeen by Shaun Treweek and friends. It will be interesting to see if we can get similar results. And so, without further ado, join me and together we will rule the galaxy… erm…sorry… I mean we will make some cool infographics! Woohoo!
Managing Editor, Cochrane Work