Cisco Connected World Techology Report

Over the last few years Cisco have produced a report on the changing attitude of people to being permanently connected.

This years report – 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report – has just been released. The report is based on two surveys, one looking into the attitudes of Gen Y, and the other looking at the attitude of IT Professionals.

At the heart of this year’s study is the smartphone and the constant connectivity it provides to work, entertainment, shopping, and friends. There are 206 bones in the human body, and the smartphone should be considered the 207th bone for Generation Y. They view smartphones as an appendage to their beings — an indispensable part of their lives, and yet they are concerned about data management and Internet security.

Who knew that 43% of British Gen Y always check there smart-phone as part of their morning ritual alongside brushing there teeth? It wasn’t much of a surprise to me having seen how many of them check their smart phone while stood at the latrine at work! The French are far less bothered about such things with only 29% always checking. It’s interesting that women are significantly more driven to be connected with 85% of them being compulsive checkers; it’s only 63% of men.

There’s a fun visualisation that enables you to calculate your data footprint, I apparently have a highly connected lifestyle. As you might expect there’s also a report highlighting some of the statistics and drawing some conclusions along with the seemingly mandatory set of Infographics including an interactive one showing the results for the different countries that took part.

The world is changing fast, there are a lot of people who don’t realise how fast.

Social Media Statistics

I thought we’d start the first week of December with some statistics on social media from 2012.

There are some interesting ones in this particular infographic:

+350 millions users suffer from Facebook Addiction Syndrome

Not sure what that is then perhaps you should read about the Bergan Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS).

Infographic: Working from Home

An interesting infographic on working from home with a collection of interesting statistics. I was particularly interested to see the split of people and where they think they are most productive – pretty much a third at home, a third in the office and third at either. For me, it depends on what I am doing at the time.

Axiom: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I really like pictures.

The most visited page on this site is one about Rich Pictures.

I regularly pick out interesting Infographics.

One of my favourite books at home is called Information is Beautiful which is named after the popular website.

In Search of JimmyWhy? Because “a picture is worth a thousand words”, or at least that’s the axiom I tell myself.

I wonder, though, whether this is really true.

If it were really true we’d spend much more time drawing, and far less time writing words. Yet writing words is what we do and do a lot (much like I’m doing now).

Many think that the saying is ancient and oriental, but the evidence for that is somewhat sketchy at least the literal translation. What can be said is that it was used in the 1920’s, became popular in the 1940’s and continues to be a preferred phrase. The variation on this “A picture speaks a thousand words” didn’t come until the 1970’s:

image

Just because something is popular, and just because it appears to be true doesn’t mean that it is true.

In order to assess the validity of the axiom I set off down the scientific route. What research was there for the value if diagrams?

If it were to be true then there would be some clear evidence for a picture being a much better way of communicating than a set of either spoken or written words.

I was always taught that there were three types of learners: visual learners, auditory (listening) learners and kinaesthetic (doing) learners. So I wondered whether there might be some mileage in the research done into that particular subject. If visual learners are stronger than auditory learners then it would add weight to the premise. But it turns out that learning styles might be one of my anti-axioms. So I gave that up as a dead-end.

My next port of call was to think of one particular diagram type and see whether there was any science behind the value of a particular technique.

Most of the pictures I draw are really diagrams with the purpose of communicating something.

As a fan of mind maps as a diagramming technique I wondered whether there was any clear evidence of their value. Back in 2006 Philip Beadle wrote an article in The Guardian on this subject and the use of mind maps in education:

The popular science bit goes like this. Your brain has two hemispheres, left and right. The left is the organised swot who likes bright light, keeps his bedroom tidy and can tolerate sums. Your right hemisphere is your brain on drugs: the long-haired, creative type you don’t bring home to mother.

According to Buzan, orthodox forms of note-taking don’t stick in the head because they employ only the left brain, the swotty side, leaving our right brain, like many creative types, kicking its heels on the sofa, watching trash TV and waiting for a job offer that never comes. Ordinary note-taking, apparently, puts us into a “semi-hypnotic trance state”. Because it doesn’t fully reflect our patterns of thinking, it doesn’t aid recall efficiently. Buzan argues that using images taps into the brain’s key tool for storing memory, and that the process of creating a mind map uses both hemispheres.

The trouble is that lateralisation of brain function is scientific fallacy, and a lot of Buzan’s thoughts seem to rely on the old “we only use 10% of the neurons in our brain at one time” nonsense. He is selling to the bit of us that imagines we are potentially super-powered, probably psychic, hyper-intellectuals. There is a reason we only use 10% of our neurons at one time. If we used them all simultaneously we would not, in fact, be any cleverer. We would be dead, following a massive seizure.

He goes further:

As visual tools, mind maps have brilliant applications for display work. They appear to be more cognitive than colouring in a poster. And I think it is beyond doubt that using images helps recall. If this is the technique used by the memory men who can remember 20,000 different digits in sequence while drunk to the gills, then it’s got to be of use to the year 8 bottom set.

The problem is that visual ignoramuses, such as this writer, can’t think of that many pictures and end up drawing question marks where a frog should be.

Oh dear, another cul-de-sac. In researching the mind-map though I did get to a small titbit of evidence, unfortunately from wikipedia (not always the most reliable source:

Farrand, Hussain, and Hennessy (2002) found that spider diagrams (similar to concept maps) had a limited but significant impact on memory recall in undergraduate students (a 10% increase over baseline for a 600-word text only) as compared to preferred study methods (a 6% increase over baseline).

That’ll do for me for now, it’s not “a thousand words” but it’s good enough for my purposes.

Why am I comfortable with just a small amount of evidence? Because this is one of those axioms where it’s not only about scientific proof.

Thinking about pictures in their broadest sense there are certainly pictures that would take more than a thousand words to describe them.

There are pictures that communicate emotions in a way that words would struggle to portray.

There are diagrams which portray a simple truth in a way that words would muddle and dilute.

In these situations the picture is clearly worth a lot of words, but our words would all be different. The way I would describe an emotional picture would be different to the words you would use. So it’s not about the number of words, but the number of different words.

This little bit of research has got me thinking though.

How often do we draw a diagram thinking that everyone understands it, but we’re really excluding the “visual ignoramuses” (as Philip Beadle describes himself). or the “visually illiterate” (as others describe it)?

In order to communicate we need to embrace both visual literacy and linguistic literacy in a way that is accessible to the audience. I used to have a rule in documentation, “every diagram needs a description”. The PowerPoint age has taken us away from that a bit and perhaps it’s time to re-establish it so that we can embrace the visual and the literal.

I’m happy to keep this as an axiom, but I need to be a bit more careful about where I apply it.

Information, Information, Information

I really enjoyed today’s infographic from Flowtown showing just how much information we are going to be creating in the future.

  • There are 65 million tweets every day
  • More than 70% of the Digital Universe in 2010 was generated by users.
  • Nearly 75% of the data stored in our digital universe is a copy.

Have we reached a world of infinite information?

Monopoly: Social Media Edition

Loving the thought of a Social media Edition of Monopoly, particularly like the idea that Jail has become The Real World.

Monopoly: Social Media Edition
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

Not sure about Blogger being higher up than WordPress? Surely not.

How different would this have looked 5 years ago?

How different will it look in 5 years time?

Branding Colours – on the Web

I love inforgraphiics.The people over at colourlovers.com have done an assessment of the most powerful colours in the world, including the colours of the most powerful web presences. It’s really interesting to see the influence of reds and blues but also the power of multi-coloured approaches that focus on the primary colours (below). If you are thinking of launching a social networking site though, you need to make sure that your icon uses blue.

It’s also interesting to see how different this is to the spread of colour for corporate America overall.