Journalism in the Age of Data

I have always been a visual learner. Show me rather than just telling me. This is probably the reason I am interested in interactive design instead of math and statistics. If I were given a spreadsheet of stats, I would not know where to start with interpreting it.

I recently watched this documentary, Journalism in the Age of Data, which is all about infographics and taking loads of data and interpreting it visually. Data visualization is the act of taking basic or mundane data and putting a different perspective on it. There is unlimited data out there, so there needs to be a way to take the data and communicate the information effectively.

The best advice from this documentary is ‘tell the story clearly.” This is mentioned multiple times from different people as the purpose and main goal of data visualization. Capture your audience by giving them small chunks of information. One man interviewed criticized today’s inforgraphics saying there is a huge difference between looking at data and looking at a lot of data. Too much data is incomprehensible.

The part I found most interesting in Journalism in the Age of Data, was the designers take on Flash. There are multiple ways to create interactive infographics including Flash, Javascript, and Microsoft Silverlight. Flash seems to currently be the most widely used program to create these visualizations. However, with Flash not available for mobile devices and as html5 improves, there may be less need for Flash. This idea that Flash is “dying” is a worry for some of our classmates. Personally, I enjoy Flash and am amazed by the functions it is able to do, but there has to be an easier way. I am excited to learn html5 for another method of creating animation.

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