Data-driven journalism: an idea whose time has come

On August 24 in Amsterdam the European Journalism Centre is running a conference called “Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?”

Oh, man. I hope the American journalists are listening in. Because there’s a lot to learn, in both senses: 1) what patterns and insights can we get from the data, and 2) how can we better deploy the technology?

Infoviz is finally gaining widespread renown as a storytelling technique/analysis tool, and I predict that publications will eventually need to use it if they aim to keep current readers and entice new ones.

As a longtime journalist and infoviz evangelist, I’ve been looking forward to this convergence. It may sound corny, but I believe that when information is depicted clearly and intelligently, the graphical evidence really can help people understand the problems they share and point the way to new solutions.

Communication breaks down all around us — why not use as many effective techniques as possible?

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  • I look forward to seeing both the converence and improvement of storytelling and analysis via infofviz.

    I suspect that infoviz will work much like many two-variable functions. There will still be compromises, but over time, performance will improve on all counts.

    Example: automobiles trade off performance vs. fuel economy. A Ferrari goes Zoooooom! at maybe 10 mpg. A Toyota Yaris jogs along at 34 mpg. A Honda Accord zips along (that’s between Zooom! and jog, if you didn’t know 🙂 at 30.

    The Honda is today’s compromise. But its performance and fuel economy are both better than the best-in-class specialists of 1985. Over time, the curve shifts. That’s good.

  • Exactly, Phil. I am so pleased to see this particular curve shifting this way. I have high hopes for the new showing-and-telling vernacular. It may sound corny but I really think these graphics can help people understand one another better. World peace? Nah. But a clearer understanding of where the real problems lie, at least.

Your thoughts?