The Future of InfoActive Graphics & Digital Publishing According to Facebook (?)
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
ThWallace

If infographics are in, then get ready for the next phase: "infoactive graphics." What had started off as a post about how great learning is going to become with the marriage of new media technology and the ever evolving strategies of infographics, has quickly evolved into a story about how Facebook just snapped up the latest and greatest company working to advance the world of digital publishing. As PC World tries to answer, just why did Facebook buy Push Pop Press this past week? 

Push Pop Press has been receiving acclaim over the last three months in places like TED and in the world of infographics junkies as the creators and publishers (along with Melcher Media and Rodale) of the highly interactive, full length book for the iPad and iPhone, Our Choice. This downloadable interactive book about energy and climate change is by none other than the inventor of infographics himself Al Gore.

There is nothing I love more than good design executed in a way that makes information more accessible for people to learn how to evolve society and ideas. Along with the rest of the online world I'm overjoyed with the growing popularity of infographics and now "infoactive graphics." While the Push Pop Press shop isn't the only set of innovators using this new medium, the acquisition does raise questions about what will happen to the emerging sector with a leading player taken off the board and put behind closed doors. 

 

Al Gore's Our Choice from Push Pop Press, is the perfect new example of infoactive graphics at play. The digital book that can be downloaded for the iPad and iPhone, simplifying the complex issues and technologies that are so critical for all of us to understand; energy, climate change, and natural resources.


Instead of seeing where their private beta product will shift the emerging market, we're now going to have to wait and see how Facebook integrates Push Pop's technology into their platform. Instead of a major deal with let's just say, National Geographic or the Chicago Public School System following a public launch of a publishing tool for all, we'll be more focused on understanding what privacy settings are built into the applications that Facebook creates with the technology.  

It's an understandable move; there was no need for Push Pop to toil in a new space forever, waiting for the world to catch on. It's an even more understandable move for a small company to seek shelter in this economy. This acquisition signals that "infoactive graphics" are here to stay, new publishing and education with graphics, movies, and images has a real place in the market. As communicators and media developers though, we're just going to have to wait and see if Push Pop's removal from the field will be beneficial for those itching to publish at this level.

Clearly Facebook's interest in the space can't hurt interest in the space. The remaining question is how will innovation be spurred, when will the next book of this kind be published, and will Facebook actually, become a "book"?   Just read the excerpt from Push Pop's About Page, now titled Push Pop Press acquired by Facebook. For now Facebook seems to think they hold the answers to the future, right?

Well, the reality is, you can't absorb everything in an acquisition like this. The master infographic designer of the Push Pop Press five, Brett Victor (@worrydream) said on twitter yesterday: "OK. For the record. I have no plans to work at Facebook, Google, 4chan, Baidu, Arby's, or anywhere else. I'm not cut out to be an employee." 

So while we watch this unfold, I'll be checking in with @worrydream and reading more about "reactive documents" on his website, which Facebook can't lock behind a closed door.

Article originally appeared on New Media & Social Innovation (http://thomwallace.com/).
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