27/10/2008

Copies and plagiarism. They are not the same thing

Many people come to Público's infographics department to say that we're being very orginal with our graphics. I use to answer that we're not. We're just very good copying ideas. We have selected the existing styles that we think that fits with our style and our ideas on how to explain thing. The graphics with balls, used by almost everyone nowadays, the caudal graphics and many other things have been seen before at The New York Times or The Guardian. And they had seen them before on Fortune and Minard... And, as Zarracina says, "we're all copying Playfair". And I also would say Leonardo da Vinci.


One of William Playfair's graphic, creator of charts.

On graphics, as on every kind of culture, almost everything has been invented yet. Many of the biggests advances are just reinterpretations and rescues of things done before.

For example, I love this Nigel Holmes' graphic.



So I was very surprised when I discovered a collection of look alikes on BibliOdyssey.



And not just those. Gonzalo Peltzer sent me this pair of new examples.





MAybe many of you would know them before. But I didn't. And this is not a problem for me. Holmes had to explain this data. And this was a very good way of doing. It was done before, yes, but the reader deserves the best explanations, not just the newest one. If we can give a new one that improves the others, that a great great plus.
But those who work on newspapers know that many times some articles are forgotten just because other newspaper publish them before. So we punish our owen readers.
On my opinion, this have no sense. Being original must not be a problem, but an advantage.
OK, we should not copy, don't tell where we found something, sign in and sell that as our own. But that's a different story.

Soemtimes we're asked for something original. And some proposals are using analog illustrations for the bars. As we can see on these examples of Spain at 30's. When letterset was high-tech.


Image from Malofiej 14 book, frome Fermín Vílchez's article 'Origin and evolution of graphics in Spain, 1856-1936

So, now George Rorick could come to claim his copyright for the weather maps made on 80's at USA Today.

1 comment:

Lisa's thought vomit said...

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I totally agree with this post. I seek inspiration and ideas for my work every day.