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July 01 2013

13:56

Open Data Directory, Barriers to Open Government Data and a Distributed Data Supply Chain

This week's data digest features plans for an Open Data Directory and attempts to understand barriers to open government data. Some great examples of how open data is transforming journalism are also featured and thoughts on the need to build a distributed data supply chain is expressed.

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August 03 2011

09:28

Linking Art, Technology, and Data for Online Communications

by Keisha Taylor. This was originally posted on the TechSoup Global Blog

A host of great speakers were in attendance at the event Public 2.0: Culture, Creativity and Audience in an Era of Information Openness. The free event was held on July 21, 2011, in London. It examined the link between these areas of work and its relevance for communicating today and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Westminster. The event brought together a small gathering of journalists, academics, developers, artists, activists, and business people to share ideas, experiences and talk about future possibilities in this space.

Historic Figures Used Data Visualization to Create Change

Florence Nightingale was one of the first people to use data to help inform public policy. She discovered that the majority of deaths in the Crimea were due to poor sanitation rather than casualties in battle. She was able to use her Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East to persuade the government of the need for better hygiene in hospitals. John Snow was also able to disprove the theory that cholera was an airborne disease and prove that it was actually caused by contaminated water using a data visualisation.  Nonprofits have long known the power of images (in particular photos) to gain support for and increase awareness of their work. Today, data visualisation, when done effectively, can provide additional, insightful images. These can also be powerful tools in helping organizations understand needs and influence others with the goal of realising positive social changes in communities.

Diverse Mix of Speakers/Presentations at Event

  • BBC Simon Rogers, Editor of the Guardian Datablog and Datastore gave a great presentation featuring some of the ways in which the paper is using data for reporting. Full datasets are also available for download from the paper’s website. I particularly liked the transparent data model, which shows how the paper processes its data before it is presented as a visualisation.
  • Ian Forrester, Senior Producer at BBC Research & Development, revealed some of the ways that the BBC is emphasising data and social media for reporting, but also examined the patterns and trends that are emerging with the proliferation of data online. He discussed how the ability for individual users to monitor and aggregate their personal data from social media sites and self-tracking devices is leading to the Quantified Self
  • The presentation by Drew Helment of Manchester’s Future Everything examined the latest developments at the intersection of art and technology. The group is working with public sector partners to free Greater Manchester’s public data via the DataGM project.
  • The Founder of Furtherfield, Ruth Catlow, also spoke about the need for cross fertilisation of art and technology during her presentation on an open source art world.
  • The showcase of the DataArt project for BBC Data by Harry Robbins of Outlandish Ideas illustrated just how easy it can be to find data with the right interactive visualisations. Do explore! Santiago Ortiz of Bestario’s live demo of the new Impure visualisation software was also interesting.

NGOs Should Visualize Their Data for Greater Impact

Powerful images will forever continue to help nonprofits communicate effectively, so too can data visualisations. Nonprofit communicators need to understand how they can use visualisations to communicate not only internally but also openly with the public. I’d venture that art, data and technology will continue to merge rather than collide. The resulting visualisations and underlying raw data may become a vital means of communications in a globalised world. This is especially true if nonprofits can interact with and question the data visualisations they produce and are presented with.

How can we achieve such data literacy? There’s help!

Most notably, the new Data Without Borders initiative supported by Jake Porway, a data scientist at the New York Times, “seeks to match non-profits in need of data analysis with freelance and pro bono data scientists who can work to help them with data collection, analysis, visualization, or decision support”. Data meetups are also sprouting all over the world to help anyone who wants to learn more about these issues. Find one near you. I look forward to seeing this type of work develop and increase!

February 25 2011

00:41

October 07 2010

08:00

June 21 2010

08:00

May 07 2010

14:42

#ge2010: Times experiments with news and polls tracker

As part of its election coverage the Times attempted to chart the relationship between the news agenda, represented by Times reports and articles, and the political parties’ perfomances in the polls.

It looks like this:

And works like this:

Each bubble in the above graph is a news story. Its size reflects the number of comments it received on our site, and its position (on the y axis) indicates the number of recommendations the story received. (The basic idea here is that, the higher and larger the bubble, the more ‘important’ the news story, assuming that larger, more important stories tend to get commented on and recommended more.) Colours show to which party a story relates. The lines show (depending on the tab) either Populus polling results, or the number of seats the parties were predicted to win during the campaign based on Ladbrokes odds, which are used elsewhere on the site.

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November 06 2009

15:08

Visualising the Guardian Datablog

I’m doing a regular weekly visualisation for the excellent Guardian Datablog, the front-end for an amazing library of statistics and data, lovingly hand-gathered by The Guardian.

My first post is about Deadly Drugs.

There’s been a furore over here in the UK about the dangers of illegal drugs. The Government has sacked its most senior drugs advisor, Dr Professor Nutt, after he claimed cannabis was no more harmful than alcohol. And that horse-riding, and specifically ‘equasy’ (Equine Addiction Syndrome) was riskier than taking ecstasy. (Statistically he’s correct. His study here.).

Anyway, digging at the numbers behind his statements and how drugs are reported in the popular press, I found some stuff I didn’t expect about drug harms.

Check out the article on The Guardian blog for detail and data. You want both right?

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