See you in 2012.
Posts Tagged: video
If I had a pound for every time someone’s recommended Bloomberg Business Week recently I’d be £5 better off. Which I could have put towards buying the latest issue of Eye in which Simon Esterson interviews BBW’s creative director Richard Turley. (Of course I bought it anyway.)
Bloomberg Business Week is another magazine that knows when and how to use an infographic. They completely absorb them into the layouts. They are the layout.
How do they do it? Editorial and design staff sit together, they talk, they share. It helps being well resourced too. Richard Turley uses all the words that you hear when people involved with good infographics elaborate on their approach: integration, narration, collaboration as well as strength of ideas.
They seem to have jumped headlong into motion graphics too. Their stated aim is a good one: “It’s one thing to stay up to date with news, data and information. It’s another entirely to dig past the surface, make meaningful connections and generate insights. Let us show you what others miss.” However they’ve still some way to go before cracking this medium in the same way they have done in the magazine. Judge for yourself.
PS It’s rumoured next EDO event is Richard Turley. Watch out for it here.
This combines the best of all the best things that are happening in the industry at the moment. It’s human, interactive, tells a story, uses motion graphics, has something to share at the end of it.
Of course it also ticks all the boxes that make it good in my book: clear, relevant, engaging, useful, original, elegant.
Inevitably there are bits I’d change, notably around how they deal with some of the numbers, but overall: love it.
(From Australian Bureau of Statistics but no clue as to who designed/developed it).
Seeing this video recently (via @appliedworks) reminded me of the real physical beauty that can be found in numbers when they’re displayed visually. When it’s pretty we call it a pattern, inbetween times it’s just a mess.
Much of my job – or the bit I like best – is finding patterns in numbers. They’re never this pretty, but visualising them is such a powerful way to find out if you’ve got any patterns.
Whether or not you agree with their methodology I think the Economist’s Shoe-throwers’ index is a good example of using video to tell a numbers-based story.
With a tight script, well timed animations and clear explanations of what they’ve done it’s a good example of how a bit of hand-holding via video can bring complex numbers to life.
But having built up to it step by step you’re left with an understanding of how and why they got to this index.
I’d like to see more of this sort of thing.
According to Hans Rosling statistics is about making data sing.
In my case he was preaching to the converted. But if you want an entertaining and good argument about why statistics are useful then watch The Joy of Stats. (In the week following its broadcast I overheard three separate groups of people in London discussing it, all positively, which has to be a good recommendation).
I agree with him it’s a two phase job. First you have to analyse the numbers to unearth the stories. The next step is to use colour, shape and motion to tell them. This sounds obvious but is too often rolled into one leading to complex visualisations that fail to reveal anything of interest.
His comment that “it’s about making the audience not realise they’re interacting with data” chimes perfectly with two excellent pieces of work published recently – Schooloscope and the USA’s local census data.
This film sums up many of the reasons why I enjoy doing what I do making it a fitting post to finish the year with. So here’s to making more data sing in 2011! HAPPY NEW YEAR
It’s an hour long which is why I’ve only just found time to watch Geoff McGhee’s Journalism in the Age of Data. I hasten to add it was an hour well spent in the company of experts who between them pretty much define the industry, past, present and future: see the credits below.
Not only is it beautifully made and well illustrated but I also found it reassuring. In a period of uncertainty regarding the data-frenzy that the internet has generated/become it’s apparent that everyone’s facing similar challenges. What’s different is the vast array of skills out there being applied to tackling them. There’s no single answer but everyone’s having a go, getting their hands dirty, learning from the process, watching what other people are doing and enjoying themselves.
But maybe more importantly, in amongst all this new-ness, there still seems to be value attached to the art and craft of telling a story. Which is what distinguishes this lot from the barrage of visual info-stuff that masquerades so often as ‘data visualisation’ or ‘infographics’. And it’s the numerate types who are coming into their own with their number crunching abilities that unearth the stories within the data in the first place.
If you haven’t got time to watch it, or you want a sneak preview to encourage you to watch it, a few notes are below.
The idea of having an editorial steer, or not, cropped up frequently. The argument for it – one I strongly endorse – is that the audience generally want a story. So you should explore the data thoroughly to find the story and then that’s what you use your visualisation to tell. The counter argument is that the best way of understanding data is by making it all available with an interface that allows everyone to have a go manipulating it. Organisations with the time, budget and resource ideally would like to do both.
Some of the best in the business – Ben Fry, Amanda Cox – produce work that fits the former model, telling a story. They derive satisfaction [ha! ha! inadvertantly typed statisfaction there] from getting people curious in the topic and challenging people’s perceptions, respectively.
Currently programming prowess and wow-factor visual aesthetics are in fashion, slightly eclipsing storytelling, but it’s not terminal. It’s a skills balance between programming, design and journalism. Start learning, keep learning all three. Oh, add statistics to that list too. Start learning, keep learning all four.
Other buzz words no piece worth its salt would leave out were also of course mentioned: context, collaboration and rapid iteration.
I think Stamen’s Eric Rodenbeck sums up well at the end of the film when he observes that “data visualisation is becoming a checkbox on people’s media plans. I’m not sure if that’s the best or worst thing ever”. It would be unfair of me if I didn’t add that he concluded he was erring towards it being the best thing ever.