Humanising data II

Released earlier this week, the New York Times’ visualisation of the whole of the USA’s local census data city by city, block by block, is impressive. As ever they’re leading the field with a slick, clear, fast and easy to use data tool. But to be honest I nearly dismissed it as just another whole heap of data made pretty on a map.

"Looking @ my hometown on #nytcensus. Sad that the most striking feature is the Baltimore Penitentiary" @interfluidity

Then they released the invitation for readers to share their local views of the map. It gets a whole lot more interesting. Click on ‘View Readers Maps’ [mmm, missing apostrophe there] top right. Select a message to see that person’s individual take on a particular view. The data takes on meaning and relevance to individuals. One example shown left.

This is a good model for such massive databases. Make the vast database available (in a slick, clean, fast, easy to use way) and then let users find and add the stories. While it’s been tried before this is the first time I think it has really worked.