Thanks for the Diagram, Jurkface

The construct of the socially-inept scientist is nothing new, yet today I feel compelled to beat some dead horses. Scientists can be really bad at sharing ideas. They write bulleted PowerPoint presentations that can put sharks, who never sleep due to the need to keep oxygen flowing through their gills, to sleep. They will awkwardly avoid eye contact in the hallway, even if they have known you for years and know you are walking past.

Here is an honest-to-goodness diagram from a lecture I attended this morning:

dumb_diagram.jpg

I am sure this diagram conveys a useful pathway. I am sure the people who did the research to back this diagram are fine, hardworking folks who dedicated much time to its creation.

That said, what the hell does any of it mean? There are arrows flying everywhere, gradients, colored balls, things wrapping things, and all of it feeds into a morass of confused, diagrammatic fallout. There is no consistency, no flow, nothing this diagram gives me other than the knowledge that I have to go read text if I want to find out what is happening. To boot, the author has wrapped up spatial and temporal concepts in the same space (i.e. multiple steps are drawn as spatially separated, yet the diagram is also supposed to show spatial relationships).

You know what this diagram really tells me? One thing:

Congratulations, the author learned how to use Microsoft Office’s WordArt the morning he/she made this.

The drop shadows, it goes without saying, more than compensate for the stunning lack of meaning.

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~ by wcuk on November 15, 2007.

2 Responses to “Thanks for the Diagram, Jurkface”

  1. your post has struck a chord with me on a profound level. not to one-up you, my dear friend, because i know how much you hate that, but imagine having to deal with such diagrams and being colorblind.

  2. bravo, willycakes. once again you had me in stitches. clearly the author needs to work on his communication.
    ps: how do you know when a phd is extroverted?
    he stares at your shoes.

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