Vizzies I have loved

Matt Carroll, the Boston Globe’s data guru,  gave one of my classes a tutorial on Google Fusion last week. It was pretty awesome.

Carroll called data visualization an “exploding field” with a shortage of qualified  journalists. (Hear that, student journos? If you want a job you should learn a bit about data or at least spreadsheets.) I had hoped to post a vizzy of my own, but I’ve been bogged down in other projects these last few days. Instead, here’s a roundup of some impressive data visualizations I’ve seen lately:

Drone warfare graphic from The Guardian's website.
In this interactive graphic, The Guardian breaks down drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. Photo/guardian.co.uk

The Guardian’s Datablog is always amazing, but this animated, interactive look at drone warfare in Pakistan is in a class by itself. The designers used data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to illustrate the demographics of the more than 3,000 people killed by American drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. The information is complex, but the design remains simple. A quick look shows how strikes became more frequent — and more deadly — after President Obama took office in 2009. Closer inspection reveals details about each attack.

Like the drone project, this graphic from the Associated Press is structured around a timeline. It uses colored circles the cost in terms of money and life of wars throughout American history. The AP published it today to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War. It’s simple, timely and contextualizes historic events.

ProPublica is packed with vizzies, including a few sophisticated enough to be reporting tools in their own right. One of my current favorites is this graph of where members of Congress stand on gun regulation. It’s a calm, clear look at an emotional topic. At first, I found all the little pictures distracting, but I came to appreciate them after playing with the graphic for a few minutes.

Who else is counting?

I launched this blog to help find meaning in the scads of information I’m gathering for my thesis, which is focused on the role of women in emerging online news organizations. My methodology is still in the works, but I’m lucky to have some fantastic research to build upon. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to create a literature review — a document that describes “the critical points of current knowledge” on a topic.

But it won’t be your typical lit review. There will be video, photos, maybe even an interactive graphic, all designed to help understand what data is available, who’s collecting it and — perhaps most importantly — why. I’ve written already about some of the sources I’ll cite, including this list of blogs and books, a public Zotero bibliography and a post about The Gender Report, a byline surveillance project that’s found an underpresentation of women in online news.

I’m also talking to the Columbia Journalism Review in hopes of gleaning some useful information from its fantastic Guide to Online News Startups. There’s also some interesting research happening at MIT and in conjunction with the Boston Globe’s innovation lab. One or both of those projects could make for interesting video.

Who else should I include?