Data Journalism

Lecture Pod 6 – The Beauty of Data Visualisation

break-up-times

*Image taken directly from the lecture.

The main point of the lecture is that Information is Beautiful. Data Visualisation helps us to hone in and focus only on the information that matters. Visualising data helps us to see patterns and connections that we would not have otherwise seen. Data can be massaged, shaped and compared to create new insights. Through being shaped it can be used to tell a story that no-one has noticed before. Data visualisation is really the combination of the languages of both the eye and the brain, the combination of images and words to create new meaning. It is also a form of data compression, making a ridiculous amount of data fit into a small space while also being understandable.

It can also just look cool.

 

billion-dollar-o-gram

*Image taken directly from the lecture.

The main thing that I learn’t from this lecture was that for information to be understood, it needs a good visualisation. It needs to be able to be quickly understood and also able to be further interrogated. If people are scrolling on social media, they are not going to stop for a huge paragraph of text but they may stop for a visualisation.

References

McCandless, D. (2016). The beauty of data visualization. Ted.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016, from http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization

Lecture Pod 5 – Data Journalism

Olympic Medal Tables.png

*This image was taken from the lecture about data journalism in action at the London      Olympics (referenced at the end)

This lecture was all about data journalism, what it is, its history and its use in something like the Olympics. The key definition here is that data journalism is telling a story using data to bolster your argument or point of view. The point of data journalism is to tell a story in a way that will keep the reader entertained.  The good thing about data journalism is that it can (to a degree) take opinions out of the news and leave you with cold hard facts. There is almost always something to do with data in most stories. Now data journalism is just journalism because people don’t trust reporters anymore, they need to bolster their arguments through data.

There is a myth that data journalism did not exist before 2009, that is not true. Data journalism has been used ever since the first issue of the guardian back in the 1800’s. It has always been a part of the news, it has just been recently popularised. Even just using text and simple lines could be considered an effective data visualisation. These data visualisations have often been used to explain things about war to the public.

The Olympics are a good example of data visualisation. Everyone wants to know who is the best, using medal tables. But this data may not tell the whole story. If this data was corrected against things like GDP or population what effect would that have on the medal tally? A visualisation like this was made by the Guardian for the 2012 Olympics. It allowed people to interrogate the data themselves and it could be updated in real time.

The most important point in here though is the speed a data visualisation can now be produced at. This speed was not available 20 or 30 years ago while now we can do them fast and they can be updated in real time, they are not fixed which is a great asset to have when covering something ongoing, like the Olympic medal tables.

References

Data journalism in action: the London Olympics. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 15 October 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyjBJzigm0w

History of Data Journalism at The Guardian. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 15 October 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIa5EoxyvZI

What is data journalism at The Guardian?. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 15 October 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBOhZn28TsE