The post on The Rise of Tower Graphics was very popular.
There were plenty of comments too - and below are some of the points raised and some responses. (commenters' names not linked but you can see them on the post)
Evolution of form
A couple of commenters mentioned that these are shaped as long scrolling assets because they are built for blogs. This makes a lot of sense as blogs are one of the most continually vertical reading experiences we have and why wouldn't graphics constructed for these fit the frame so well? I suspect that is why they are so sectioned in their construction - there is no point giving them a unifying composition as they will never be experienced in one shot like a magazine spread.
The above points reminded me of a talk I once saw that explored Radial and Sequential newspaper graphics. Radial graphics contain a large central image with auxiliary information around the edges. These graphics don't integrate with the rest of the content so well but make the initial sell of the subject very well. A big iconic subject chosen as the orientating object not only makes a sell, but provides an accessible start point for the average reader.
Sequential graphics integrate elements more within the linear path of the text flow and as a result cause more text to be read. One could argue they satisfy the need for multi-modality - that of text doing its own job well, diagrams their job well - each in their place doing what they are good at.
(more on the sequential/radial stuff here)
Virality and 'Cheating'
One commenter said "apparently lots of these info-graphics are just thrown together by dodgy organisations to try and get traffic from Reddit, Digg,"
The people doing this realise that lots of people like information graphics and so they use them as marketing to get people to look at them, rate them favourably, encouraging click-throughs to sites of dubious worth. This industrialised production would go someway to explaining why there are so many of these about at the moment.
If they are made by graphic designers with no information design experience, that would also explain why they have the visual trappings of information graphics, but on further examination are just montages of informational elements. It also explains why the content is so dull for many of them too.
There was quite a lot of debate on what video was good and not good at.I'll cover that in another post.
I certainly agree that the reader is in control of the speed at which they read tower graphics - but then on the flip-side, a well organised video can make the information seamlessly digestible.
It seems to be a perennial rally to arms amongst digital people - that of 'allowing people to interact and understand at their own pace'. I agree with the sentiment but the reality is often that the mechanics of this slowed or stepped interaction often create a barrier (such as the 'press next' function/ too many sliders, radio buttons on so many web graphics) - of course what i would like to see is two versions: a well told video story - and a fully interactive, explorable version.
The relevant facts, told in the relevant way for specific audiences.