March 29, 2011

Data Reveals Stories: Part Two | Words

This is one of a six-part series on how to harness data to reveal stories. It represents notes and follow-on links. If you want to take part in an exciting workshop to get your hands on real life data sets, create your own visualisations and learn how to share them, you can join me in Boston at Building Learning Communities for my pre-conference workshop this summer, or ask for it as one of our masterclass sessions. Many of the examples cited are from the information visualiser's Bible, Information is Beautiful: buy the book (in the UK | in the USA) or visit the blog.

Mountains out of a molehill
Annotated graphing

Take a graph that would otherwise be a boring squiggle and present us with startling or surprising information as annotated text.

Examples:
Breakups, as monitored through Facebook Status Updates of "… just ended a relationship"
Mountains out of Molehills - column inches presented as a molehill graph.

Contrast image and (in words) story
Images can be used to make us smile, while words portray the deep, shocking truth.
Example:
Murderous dictators by facial hair (Information is Beautiful, p.172)

Calligram of the Great Firewall of China
Calligram

Write a text that takes the shape of the thing you are describing, adding proportionality or geography to add another level of meaning.
Example:
The Great Chinese Firewall as shown through websites that are blocked from coming into China and searches that are forbidden within it, in the form of a verbal map.

Proportionate Words
The data cliché of Wordle stops being a cliché when it makes a point.
Try Tagcrowd if you want to delimit the words and have a more accurate representation of the words that matter (i.e. by automatically getting rid of pronouns, articles etc).
Example:
Compare political bias in newspapers by TagCrowding the same story across tabloids, right and leftist papers.
Copy and paste speeches by politicians who speak about the same issues, and see what really interests them: Obama's vision for education:

Tagcrowd - Obama Education

versus that of English Education Secretary, Michael Gove:

Tagcrowd - Gove Education

 

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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