Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

0964 Using Infographics

访问量:
Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 964 – Using Infographics.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 964. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

How are you today? I’m fine, thank you. Our website is also fine. You can find it at ESLPod.com. Go there, become a member, and download a Learning Guide for this episode. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod.

On this episode, we’re going to hear a dialogue between Mario and Cleo about using visuals to convey, or give people, information. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Mario: That’s a lot of text in your proposal. Are you sure people are going to take the time to read all of that?

Cleo: It’s a complex proposal with a lot of moving parts. I can’t simplify it without leaving out essentials.

Mario: What you need are infographics. You can encapsulate and communicate a lot of information by using visuals.

Cleo: This is a serious business proposal. I want people to take it seriously, and I don’t want them to get distracted by a lot of color pictures.

Mario: That’s precisely why you have to use infographics. Look at these reports and proposals I’ve received in the past year. Everybody is communicating complex sets of information and statistics in maps and graphics. You can even show hierarchies and networks easily using infographics.

Cleo: I didn’t know it could be done in such a professional way, but I don’t know the first thing about creating infographics.

Mario: Lucky for you, I know an expert.

Cleo: Who?

Mario: Someone who is enormously talented, but underappreciated.

Cleo: I don’t think I know anyone like that.

Mario: Hmph!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Mario saying to Cleo, “That’s a lot of text in your proposal.” “Text” (text) here means written words – not images, not photos, not pictures – just the actual words of whatever you’re writing. Mario says there’s “a lot of text in your proposal.” The “proposal” is when you are trying to get someone to approve of your ideas to do something. Mario says, “Are you sure people are going to take the time to read all of that?” “To take the time” to do something is to spend the time to do something so that you do it correctly, or you do it properly, or you do it thoroughly – completely.

Cleo says, “It’s a complex proposal with a lot of moving parts.” “Complex” (complex) means complicated, difficult to understand, not easy to follow. “Moving parts” refers to the different parts of any sort of activity. “Parts” here refers to the different things that are required for this particular activity to take place or to be successful. It’s a very general term used to describe different aspects or different areas of a project.

If you have a lot of “moving parts,” you have a lot of things that change and that change other things in your project. If this person does their job well, then that helps the other person; or, if this happens, then that will mean something else will happen. All of these things are related to each other, and you have to try to coordinate them, to get them to work together. What Cleo is saying is that it’s a very complicated proposal. You’ll hear that expression, “a lot of moving parts,” when someone is talking about something that is very complicated.

Cleo says, “I can’t simplify it without leaving out essentials.” “To simplify” (simplify) means to make something simpler, make something easier. “Essentials” (essentials) are things that are necessary for a certain activity or project – things that you absolutely must have. Food and water are essential if you are going to live; so is oxygen, so are a lot of other things. These are “essentials.” Cleo says that she doesn’t want to leave out, or not include, essentials in her proposal. That’s why it’s so complicated.

Mario says, “What you need are infographics.” An “infographic” (infographic) is a graphic or visual representation of information. It may be representing things as a process. It may be showing the different parts of something. All of those would be considered “infographics.” The word “infographics” comes from “information” and “graphics,” which are visuals. So, an infographic is a visual that helps people understand complicated information.

Mario says, “You can encapsulate and communicate a lot of information by using visuals.” “To encapsulate” (encapsulate) means to summarize, to include. “To encapsulate” would be to give someone a brief version of the information, but in a way that communicates or gets them all of the information they need to understand it.

“Visuals” (visuals) are things that you can see, such as an image or a photograph or a graphic. Usually when you see the word “visuals,” someone is using that to distinguish it from text. The word “text,” as we pointed out, refers to words. “Visuals” refers to everything else, really, that you would look at on a piece of paper, that would be communicating information to you.

Cleo says, “This is a serious business proposal. I want people to take it seriously.” “To take it seriously” means to consider it in a serious way. She says, “I don’t want them to get distracted by a lot of color pictures.” “To be distracted (distracted) by” something means to have your attention taken away from an important thing because something else, either important or interesting, is happening.

Many people nowadays get “distracted” by email at work. They’re working on a project, and they have their email program open on their computer, and they hear a new message come in and they go, “Oh, I have to go check that message right away.” And that message distracts them from their real work, their important work, which is what they were doing before they got distracted.

Cleo thinks that putting in infographics will distract the readers of her proposal. She uses the term “a lot of color pictures,” which is meant to indicate that it might look nice, but it’s not very important, or doesn’t convey or give any important information. Mario says, “That’s precisely why you have to use infographics. Look at these reports and proposals I’ve received in the past year. Everybody is communicating complex sets of information and statistics in maps and graphics.”

“Statistics” refers to information in a numerical form. In everyday English, it could be something as simple as the percentage of people in a certain category, or something much more complicated. Mario says that people are communicating or trying to give information about very complicated sets of information in maps and graphics. A “map” is, of course, a drawing that shows you where something is. “Graphics” is another word for “images” or “visuals.”

Mario says, “You can even show hierarchies and networks easily using infographics.” A “hierarchy” (hierarchy) in this case is a chart that shows the relationships among different people in a group. You might have a chart or graphic that shows the president on the top, and then the vice presidents below him, and then the managers below the vice presidents, and so forth. That would show the hierarchy, the ranking of the people in that company – who is the most powerful, who’s the second most powerful, and so forth.

Mario says, “You can show hierarchies and networks.” “Networks” (networks) are systems of people or things, especially when we’re talking about computers that are connected and related to each other. Cleo says, “I didn’t know it could be done in such a professional way, but I don’t know the first thing about creating infographics.” The expression “to not know the first thing about” something means you are completely unfamiliar with something. You don’t have any idea about how to do this.

Mario says, “Lucky for you, I know an expert.” Cleo says, “Who?” Mario says, “Someone who is enormously talented, but underappreciated.” “To be enormously talented” means to be very talented, to have a lot of expertise in something. “To be appreciated” means that people know that you do a good job, and they understand that and recognize that. “To be underappreciated” means that people don’t completely or fully recognize all that you do. You don’t receive enough credit for what you do.

Cleo says, “I don’t think I know anyone like that.” Obviously, Mario is not happy at the end of the dialogue. He says, “Hmph!” Of course, Mario is the person that Mario is talking about – he is the person who is enormously talented when it comes to or related to creating infographics.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Mario: That’s a lot of text in your proposal. Are you sure people are going to take the time to read all of that?

Cleo: It’s a complex proposal with a lot of moving parts. I can’t simplify it without leaving out essentials.

Mario: What you need are infographics. You can encapsulate and communicate a lot of information by using visuals.

Cleo: This is a serious business proposal. I want people to take it seriously, and I don’t want them to get distracted by a lot of color pictures.

Mario: That’s precisely why you have to use infographics. Look at these reports and proposals I’ve received in the past year. Everybody is communicating complex sets of information and statistics in maps and graphics. You can even show hierarchies and networks easily using infographics.

Cleo: I didn’t know it could be done in such a professional way, but I don’t know the first thing about creating infographics.

Mario: Lucky for you, I know an expert.

Cleo: Who?

Mario: Someone who is enormously talented, but underappreciated.

Cleo: I don’t think I know anyone like that.

Mario: Hmph!

[end of dialogue]

Our scripts are essential to our success here on ESL Podcast, and they are written by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
text – written words, without images; words on a page or website

* The professor asked us to write a five-page report, but we don’t know if she wanted single- or double-spaced text.

to take the time to – to set aside time for a particular task or activity, especially when one should or could do many other things with that time

* It’s important for new parents to take the time to relax and enjoy each other’s company, without focusing on their child for at least a few minutes.

complex – complicated; difficult to understand or follow; not simple or easy

* Why does the home-buying process have to be so complex? Why do we have to sign so many documents?

moving parts – things that are changing and interacting, especially quickly and in unpredictable ways, when one needs to be aware of the current status of something

* The new marketing plan has a lot of moving parts, so we won’t be able to measure its success for several months.

to simplify – to make something simpler and easier

* The local government is trying to simplify the car registration process.

essential – the most important part of something; something that is necessary and cannot be left out

* It’s essential for doctors to develop good relationships and trust with their patients.

infographic – a graphic representation of data or information; a graphic using colors, tables, charts, and images to present information with little or no text

* A well-designed infographic can convey as much information as a 10-page report.

to encapsulate – to surround and cover; to summarize; to include

* Violent movies like this encapsulate all the reasons why we don’t let our kids go to the movie theater.

visual – an image, photograph, or graphic; not text

* Good public speakers are comfortable using visuals as they speak to an audience.

to get distracted by – to have one’s attention taken away from the most important thing by something that is more interesting or attractive

* If the students get distracted by things that are outside, just close the curtains.

statistics – information in numbers resulting from an analysis of data, such as the mean (average), median, mode, and standard deviation

* The survey results are interesting, but we won’t know if they’re meaningful for the larger population until we have a chance to review the statistics.

map – a drawing that shows the size and location of places or objects

* Can you show us where you live on this map?

graphic – an image, especially one created by a computer; not text or a photograph

* Which graphic should we use for the cover page?

hierarchy – a chart that shows the relationships and power between people or things, usually with the most powerful one at the top and the least powerful ones at the bottom

* Why does our company have so many layers of middle-management in the organizational hierarchy?

network – a system of people or things, especially computers, connecting with and relating to one another

* The university’s computer network is password-protected.

to not know the first thing about – to be unfamiliar with something; to not have any information or skills related to something

* I was one of five boys, so I don’t know the first thing about raising a little girl.

underappreciated – not fully recognized for one’s achievements or contributions; not receiving enough admiration or support for one’s efforts or work

* Your mother feels underappreciated. Could you please start thanking her for all the things she does for you?

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these things are not visuals?
a) Text
b) Maps
c) Graphics

2. What does Cleo mean when she says that her proposal has a lot of moving parts?
a) The main ideas of the proposal are still changing.
b) The proposal is extremely expensive to produce.
c) The proposal is complex and difficult to understand.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
complex

The word “complex,” in this podcast, means complicated, difficult to understand or follow, and not simple or easy: “These calculations are extremely complex, and only a few people in the world can understand them.” When talking about buildings, a “complex” is an area of buildings that are related in some way or used for a similar purpose: “How many people work in the army complex?” Or, “In three years, they’ll add a new cancer ward to the university hospital complex.” When talking about psychology, a “complex” is a mental or emotional problem where one worries about something too much: “Bennett has always had a complex about the size of his head, even though nobody else thinks it’s as big as he does.”

map

In this podcast, the word “map” means a drawing that shows the size and location of places or objects: “On this map, city names written in the largest font are the cities with the biggest population.” The phrase “off the map” means a long way from a major population center: “Randall grew up on a small farm off the map in North Dakota.” The phrase “to put (something) on the map” means to make a place famous or very well-known”: “These pancakes are what put our café on the map.” Finally, the phrase “to map (something) out” means to create a detailed plan for how something will happen: “Jas is only 17 years old, but she has already mapped out her future career.”

Culture Note
Controversial Uses of Infographics

As “graphic design” (the process of creating attractive graphics) has become simpler with the “rise” (increased use) of personal computers, infographics are becoming increasingly common. However, they “face” (deal with) a lot of “criticism” (negative comments), because many infographics are unhelpful “at best” (in the best situations) and “deceptive” (causing people to believe something that is not true) “at worst” (in the worst situations).

A good infographic should avoid “distorting” (change the size, making smaller/bigger things seem bigger/smaller than they actually are) data. They should use colors to “enhance” (improve) understanding of “patterns” (meaningful relationships between data), not only for decoration and interest.

USA Today, a national daily newspaper, has “come under fire” (been criticized heavily) for its overuse of poor infographics. USA Today uses infographics to try to make it easier for readers to understand complex information, but “critics” (people who don’t like something) say that the newspaper’s infographics “oversimplify” (make too simply and basic) the news stories.

Many people argue that USA Today’s infographics contain too much “chartjunk,” or information that does not need to be included, but it added “merely” (only) for entertainment. Chartjunk can “take many forms” (be available in many different types). Sometimes chartjunk is simply “superfluous” (extra; unnecessary) colors or “gradients” (slow changes from one color to another), or dark “gridlines” (horizontal or vertical lines that cross the main part of a graph). But “chartjunk” can also refer to “extraneous” (extra and not necessary) information. In all cases, chartjunk distracts readers from the main idea.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - c