Citizen Data Visualization

How cool is this?

Today, we’re taking the next step in reader involvement with the launch of The New York Times Visualization Lab, which allows readers to create compelling interactive charts, graphs, maps and other types of graphical presentations from data made available by Times editors. NYTimes.com readers can comment on the visualizations, share them with others in the form of widgets and images, and create topic hubs where people can collect visualizations and discuss specific subjects.

source

Sure you could do this the hard way for a lot of the data but to have it supported and built into the system is pretty nice and an interesting shift towards a different kind of user interaction. It, as well as the growth of sites like wordle, swivel and manyeyes, really shows how prevalent and important information visualization is becoming.

Now we have to start teaching our students how to analyze and how to make these visualizations in ways that matter. The thought behind the construction (or deconstruction) is what’s important. It’d be easy for a lot of this to be the powerpoint animation of data- just a quick way to pretend something crappy is much cooler and more important than it is (but that fools no one).

I’m not sure how flexible things will be. Seems like students might be able to go after data presentation like this guy did with the NY Times a while back. I’d love to see that kind of thing going on.

Anyone out there teaching this? know anyone teaching this?

hat tip to infographic news

Comments on this post

  1. Eric said on November 2, 2008 at 5:39 am

    This is very cool. We will have to teach our students how to interpret the data and the visualizations. The more data we have access and the more ways it can be presented the more likely that false conclusions will be drawn. We need to be teaching critical thinking and basic data analysis to a wider range of students. BUt again, having these tools is very cool.

  2. Tom said on November 13, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Eric,
    I agree. The more we expose students to creating visualizations, the more they’re likely to understand how people can use them to manipulate perceptions. I did some stuff on that with some math teachers lately and referenced this discussion with them regarding the need to teach this kind of critical thinking to our students.

    I’m not sure how many I convinced but it was put out there.

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