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Posts Tagged ‘data visualization’

Beyond the Pie Chart: New Tool for Creating Data Visualizations

raw logoFree things are good, and free things to make your job easier are even better. Density Design, a lab of the design department of the Politecnico di Milano, has released RAW, an open sourced web tool for visualizing any data you need for a story.

It’s pretty simple, although it’s not exactly for rookies (hat tip to Gigaom’s Derrick Harris for having better luck with his football diagrams!). But after refreshing my memory with their video tutorial, I was able to play around with one of their sample data sets. It’s meant to be a ‘sketching tool,’ and the results have a low-budget look, but they’re polished enough to use on any blog.

Once you plug in your data set, RAW prompts you through the next steps and you can export the final version as a vector, JSON, or PNG file an post it away. The also focus on layouts that you can’t easily make or find elsewhere — in fact, in their FAQ, they direct you here in case you really, really need a pie chart. It’s open source, so if you’re able you can go wild. And they don’t store your data, so you don’t have to worry if  you’re working with something sensitive.

All in all, it’s worth a peek and anyone who has been longing for a dendrogram of your local football league’s data — now is your time. Be patient though; it was tested in Google Chrome, and it works with some minor issues in Firefox and Safari. Let us, and them know what you think.

Do you have any other good data visualization web tools?

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Data Visualizations in the Newsroom

If you consume any political news or watch late night television, Congress has become the punchline of many an editorial or frustrated monologue. But does Congress really suck?

With a data visualization, Nikanth Patel, an Editorial Production Associate at The New Yorker, hopes to help people answer that question. Created in his time away from the office, Patel entered his latest data visualization project “Does Congress Really Suck?” in the BiCoastal Datafest sponsored by Columbia and Stanford Universities, where it won the “Best in Insight” prize.

By aggregating public data into a sleek and interactive interface, Patel’s project allows users to judge Congress through comparisons to past sessions, by following the money trail, and a real-time view of the public’s opinion of Congress on social media.

Why data visualizations? For starters, it makes information easier to consume. Since we have the technology to make data look sleek, even artful, and let readers interact with it, why not? Patel sees data visualizations as just another step in the evolution of the image. Reporters have used pictures, then video, to help tell their story. Why not data visualizations? As long as it’s in context, of course. Read more

10 Tools, Apps, Interactives And Other Projects Around 2012 U.S. Elections

Election season is just around the corner, and the summer has been a prime time for news organizations to start releasing new tools, projects, APIs and other awesome apps around the election. Here’s a collection of a few of my favorites, ranging from a polling API to a Canadians in America project.

1. USA Today’s Candidate Match Game II

This fun tool asks you about whether you agree or disagree with certain statements, then asks you to adjust your “importance” gauge. As you answer questions, the graphic on the right changes to display whether you align more closely with Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. It’s functional, fun, shareable and well-designed. See the full project

Read more

NBCPolitics.com and foursquare Team Up for Campaign Check-ins Map

Newly launched NBCPolitics.com and foursquare have joined forces to offer users a new way to participate in the upcoming presidential campaign trail: a “Campaign Check-ins” map. 

An example of the new "Campaign Check-ins" map.

The data visualization map will show check-ins from both President Obama’s and the Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns as they travel across the country. NBC reporters embedded with the Republican candidates will also provide real-time check-ins.

“Understanding where candidates go on the campaign trail and why they go there is a fascinating story that we wanted to share with consumers,” said Paige West, msnbc.com‘s creative director, in the press release. “Visually mapping the campaigns’ activities as we progress through each state’s nominating contest and the general election is the best possible way to bring that story to life. Without foursquare, it wouldn’t be feasible for us to produce this type of content.”

The goal of the interactive map, which won’t launch until January 2012, is to allow the public “to see which events candidates attend and the types of venues where they choose to make campaign stops,” according to a press release on the partnership.

The map will show the check-ins and activity of candidates and campaigns both in real-time and over time. This means it will be easier to visually map how well or poorly a candidate has done. That kind of data would be fascinating to analyze after the presidential election is over.

NBC announced NBCPolitics.com earlier today as the network’s new online destination for its political coverage of the upcoming election. Our sister site, TVNewswer, has more details.

For more details, read the full press release after the jump. Read more

Infographic Overload?

Source: Indexed

Who doesn’t love a good infographic?

When done well, they concisely present information in a way no narrative story could, helping you see comparison and draw conclusions you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint on your own. But when they’re done poorly, or worse unnecessarily, they muddle information for the sake of being an infographic.

The goal of a designer is to make information more accessible and readable, whether it’s by choosing the perfect font to convey a mood, layout to draw readers through, or graph to show off data as only graphs can do. But when unprecedented amounts of data and graphics software fall into the hands of the masses, color and quantity sometimes trump care and quality.

Grace Dobush at HOW Interactive Design is on a campaign to stop the madness. In her post, Quit it With All the Infographics Already, she points out several good reasons to think before inking an infographic, including:

     

  • Most infographics aren’t accessible for the visually impaired.
  • Most infographics aren’t search-engine optimized.
  • Those super-long infographics are practically useless on a mobile device.
  • Of all online infographics, 89% contain statistics of dubious veracity. (Err, percentage is madeup, which is sort of her point.)
  • Many infographics are just plain bad.

That’s not to say there aren’t reasons to use graphics. There are plenty of awesome graphical stories on news sites and blogs today. 10,000 Words highlights them often. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you need to go graphic goofy.

You should go read the rest of the post to get more background on those valid points, and to get HOW Magazine’s pointers on how to avoid falling into the infographic trap and responsibly create them.

(The image on this post, by the way, comes from Indexed, a comic of sorts drawn on index cards and using only charts. I’m not saying the charts are bad, but I’ll admit I’ve scratched my head in confusion at a few of them.)

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