Worldwide Text Messaging Trends Graphic
Worldwide Texting Trends | by shanesnow for Mashable using Pew Internet research

What works

What I like most about this graphic is that it summarizes great research from Pew that many folks would not have perused by reading Pew’s publicly available reports. That’s always one of the reasons I tout information graphics – they make information accessible and interesting to people who don’t have the drive/access/time to read full reports and the graphics often give more detail than do executive summaries. Clearly, any summary cannot give all the granularity of the report, but I assume most people do not read full reports. This comprehensive visual summary packs in more information than would a journalistic article about the research that have to include the requisite interview with a teen who texts or the parent who pays her bill or the person who was injured by a texting driver (or the guilty driver). Only sprinkled among the vox populi would we see a couple of quotes from a couple of ‘experts’ who conducted the survey. And nobody can summarize all that much in a total of four-ish quotes. I am still weighing the pros and cons of recommending that standard executive summaries be replaced by (accompanied by?) information graphics like this, at least in the case of survey-based reports.

Out with the written executive summary, in with the infographic summary? Please debate.

What needs work

I couldn’t find the actual references so I added some of my own where you can corroborate things like the Finnish PM who broke up with a girlfriend over text and the story of the first text message sent by Neil Papworth. My guess is that the bulk of the information comes from Pew while a lot of the fun facts come from the other sources. But I couldn’t find that out for sure without a great deal of effort (like tracing back every single datapoint in each of the components of this graphic).

The interwebs has a social policy of hyperlinking to sources. Please folks, keep that going someway, somehow. Otherwise we risk plagiarism which is bad in itself (see my dissertation 2011). Additionally, when it is not possible to check facts, exaggerations, methodological mistakes, made up info, and just plain lies are harder to ferret out.


Pew Internet and American Life Project
   Report on Mobile Access (7 July 2010)
   Report on Teens and Mobile Phones (20 April 2010)

shanesnow. (18 August 2010) “US and Worldwide Texting Trends” Original post at mashable.

Boyes, Roger. (14 March 2007) How potato love affair with Finnish PM went off the boil. The Sunday Times online.

BBC News Online. (3 December 2002) Hppy Bthdy Txt.