I’m the kind of person who (unintentionally) wastes untold millions of neurons storing useless information about random character actors I’ve seen on different TV shows and movies. If I see a faintly familiar face in, say, Deadwood, my mind won’t rest until I’ve placed where I’ve seen it before. Now, designer Zack Grossbart has created an interactive infographic that lets you have the same kind of pointless fun just by clicking a button. It’s called "The HBO Recycling Program" and it shows just how deep that network’s game of musical casting-chairs goes.
In an interesting twist, Grossbart’s design is a remix of another infographic created by Craig Robinson for Grantland.com. The original graphic used a kaleidoscope of color-coded filaments to statically connect actors’ names with the HBO series they had appeared in. "The image is pretty and interesting to look at, but it’s difficult to read," Grossbart writes. "Try finding the one actor who’s worked on Oz, The Sopranos, and The Wire. I can’t."
Grossbart’s interactive redo isn’t as eye-candytastic, but that’s a good thing: by letting the user highlight the colored connections between shows and actors one at a time (or several at a time, a nice touch), the infographic becomes more effective at, y’know, actually imparting information. Unrequested redesigns often do little more than replace one limited set of pre-conceived notions with another, so it’s refreshing to see another take on a piece of visual communication that actually improves it, and relatively egolessly to boot (Grossbart credits all the original Grantland creatives on his version and also includes an option to fork the code powering his version). With the scads of lackluster infographics littering the Internet, maybe Grossbart’s respectful reworking will start a welcome trend.