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Ben OwensThere’s a good chance you’re reading this on a smartphone or a tablet. With consumers’ increased reliance upon mobile solutions to everyday computing and communication, it becomes imperative that professionals in all fields be well-versed in the newest trends and best practices for taking advantage of such platforms.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute hosted its Mobile First symposium last week and, among the variety of talented experts who spoke, I had the opportunity to attend presentations by Trina Chiasson, Kim Garretson, Xavier Dammon and Victor Hernandez.

Dammon and Garretson both spoke of endeavors into the realm of digital storytelling, with startups such as Storify, NewsGuru and Luci taking center stage. But of the first day’s speakers, Chiasson’s presentation had my undivided attention: Her topic was infographics and I am a designer and a passionate tech nerd.

Chiasson is the co-founder and CEO of InfoActive, which provides simplistic mobile-friendly solutions for sharing large sets of data. She’s also a Reynolds Fellow whose company won Best Bootstrap Startup last year at South By Southwest.

Seeing early infographics by major news outlets, Chiasson became frustrated with the lack of support for mobile consumption, even by some of the most celebrated content providers. A Web designer and self-proclaimed tech nerd as well, she sought to replace the really long jpeg or pdf files with interactive and engaging graphics that could be constantly updated and live in a scalable, mobile-friendly environment.

Using InfoActive’s online builder, you will only need a very basic knowledge of HTML, and even that is not really necessary. Users comfortable with common media programs will feel comfortable adding text, formatting graphics and inserting their data sets with little to no learning curve. As statistics change and the data sets grow, the graphic is updated in real time.

While currently in early-beta stage, Infoactive has opened up some early accounts to thought leaders as testers. Organizations such as PR Daily, Rackspace and The Montreal Gazette are using Infoactive with great results. The free public beta will launch near the end of April and the company plans to offer special packages tailored to educational and nonprofit groups. I’ve already signed up.

Ben Owens  
Guest blogger


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