Can Death Be Too Designed?


On Wired’s Underwire blog, Sonia Zjawinski says yes, the New York Times Op-Ed has “overdesigned” its latest visualization of 2,592 soldiers killed in Iraq. She equates the latest chart, published this week, to this Groovisions illustration:

While I fully support the idea of creatively charting numbers that are sometimes hard to grasp or visualize, this chart loses its power in its overly designed nature.

That may have been the designer’s intent, she concedes, but in the comments an astute observer accuses Wired of the same thing:

It’s no worse than some of the graphics displaying stats in Wired. Particularly the nutritional values and air delays graphics in this month’s issue. They could do with being dumbed down a bit more…

Of course we thought immediately of Good’s Transparency section, where designers crunch numbers with a style that’s often extremely colorful and playful, even when dealing with heavy issues. As Scott Stowell told us in December, there’s been plenty of controversy about whether or not that content has been appropriate.

Back to the NYT’s chart…it certainly does convey the magnitude of those killed. But we have to admit our first response was, wow, that would make some really nice kids wallpaper.