For my part, I'm mostly interested in the story-end of this data. Let's imagine that you could store tons of data in one central warehouse--population size, export numbers, health and wellness statistics, earnings for employees at non-profits, whatever. And as a media maker, you could draw out this data and use different, set mapping tools to communicate it. For example, check out this site. You've probably seen **maps like this before that can easily demonstrate different world trends, like the world map according to population size, or land mass. But imagine if you can plumb different information stats to demonstrate something else. In honor of Christmas time, check out these two maps:
The first one is a map where territory size shows the proportion of worldwide net exports of toys (in USD) that come from that territory. (**net exports are exports, minus imports. When importas are larger than exports the territory is not shown.) And as you might have guessed on your own, the second map is where territory size represents the proportion of worldwide net import of toys (in USD) from that territory. Starts you thinking, right? The maps on their own tell a story. But let's say you want to go one further and create an even more elaborate narrative for these numbers--perhaps with a (gasp) agenda...
This video comes from the very talented crew at Good Magazine. They take the concepts from the maps above, and blow them out into a specific story about Christmas consumption, and the implication behind the places from which we get our goods. They don't exactly tell you what to think about the amount of Christmas imports from China--but they invite the viewer to be conscious that there's a story behind these numbers. You decide what that story means to you.
I don't claim to be any kind of numbers whiz; statistics...what are those? But as someone interested in telling stories about how our world is shaped--numbers, stats, data are all fundamental to my process. And I see it as a responsibility of media makers to help transform that "unreadable" data, into something intelligible and interesting for the larger audience. I'm trying to imagine right now how to train people who are not professionals to use the data to buoy their own storytelling purposes. If you've seen any interesting visualizations of data out there, please send them my way!
And as an extra bonus for you readers who held on during my hiatus, here's a pretty amazing video using words to tell a story:
More Life 101 videos at 5min.com
**I found that mapping tool while listening to a presentation given at the TED conference by the head of PRI (Public Radio International), one of the big distributors of public radio programming. The presentation noted the skew of news reporting in the U.S.. The visualization of the data was fundamental in her telling the story that Americans are highly uninformed about international news. Take a look here.