Passwords: This Necessary Evil [infographics]

computer-large-newPasswords are ubiquitous. We all use them and despite the fact that we keep grumbling that they aren’t good enough, we still rely on them in order to protect our most precious information like bank account details, personal and electronic commerce details and such like. What I learned today while looking at Ken Peterson’s infographics is that passwords, as it were, aren’t a new invention. They were created with WWII for cyphers and were adapted in 1972 to become the classic passwords as we know them. Yet, however important, passwords are still misused by users who use the same passwords for multiple sites (73%), use the same passwords for all their sites (33%), or even use the word “passwords” and other niceties as a secret code. all sources for stats are quoted at the end of the picture.

The true colour of brands and true nature of infographics (1)

today’s selection is…

Thanks to my favourite stumble upon gimmick for finding new content and subjects, I discovered this very interesting piece of infographics about the true nature of brands according to their colour. I do not know what these graphics, beautifully crafted by the way, “[tell] about your business” as the headline says, but I certainly know what it means about the way that we read, understand and are influenced by pictures. A long time ago (2003), I published a piece on my website by Giancarlo Livraghi, an Italian publicist and the author of a book in Italian entitled “the cultivation of the Internet“. Giancarlo, in that piece, was describing what he called PowerPointis, a concept he had come across while seeing Colin Powell use pictures to convince the UN that the war on Iraq was justified. His point was that most of Powel’s pictures were fabricated but weren’t questioned because it’s hard not to believe pictures. This theory was accredited later in a Hollywood film based on a true story (Green Zone – 2010). I will re-publish this very important piece in a forthcoming post.

Imago ergo sum …

Infographics, mostly those like this one which are beautiful and laid out with excellent taste, go straight to the point and are easy to grasp. They are emotional and aesthetic. They appeal to our feelings. Besides because they are so simple and didactic, they are taken at face value, so much so that no one dares point out that they could be wrong. All you need is a click of the mouse and hey presto! The picture is multiplied and shared throughout the world. It is no longer cogito but imago ergo sum (see this piece in French).

Yet, infographics are also simplistic and exaggerated. They save time but at the same time, pictures tend to deprive readers from their critical eye. Most of the time they are non representative and show surprising results. They often refer to “a study the world’s top 100…” (Brands in this particular case) but who selected the sample? What are those brands? Who commissioned the study? Where are the results to be found? What methodology?… Such questions are and will remain, most probably, unanswered.

ING Orange account doomed to failure? not so not so…

A close look at the details underneath is even more enlightening. I just focused on the orange colour for a reason (disclosure: I work for Orange). As this colour is used by the company I work for, I’m very happy to realise that it is popular for high-tech according to this infographics and that the colour code is consistent with the brand values which we all like. I also read that this colour is said to be unpopular for banking whereas ING has been using this colour-code very successfully not only in the Netherlands but throughout the world and especially in the US where it is well known and associated with this colour.

I do not need to go any further. Looking at a nice picture like this makes me think of looking at a horoscope: it’s fun, entertaining, slightly puzzling, but this is not knowledge. Knowledge requires sources. Knowledge, requires contradiction. Knowledge can use pictures; but it certainly can do away with infographics.

wikipedia by numbers

A little while ago, I published a series of articles about Wikipedia, following a conference which took place last October in Amsterdam. Thanks to the website, here is a little illustration of the prominence of the online encyclopaedia. Worthy of note is the fact that, after a long and passionate battle, encyclopaedia Britannica has eventually gone out of print. It is now restricted to its online version(s). All those extraordinary numbers exposed in this infographics should not force us to overlook some of the shortcomings embedded in the online Cyclopaedia, as explained and detailed in my article available at