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Data Journalism

The Week in Data

Infographic CV's, Euro 2012, the NBA finals and the most dangerous countries in the G20 for women - the data force is strong in our pick of the best projects of the week.

by Paule d'Atha On June 25, 2012

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À propos de l'auteur

Paule d'Atha désigne l'équipe des journalistes de données d'Owni : Julien Goetz, Sylvain Lapoix et Nicolas Patte. Twitter @pdatha.


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To start this week’s selection, we suggest you take a look at three very successful information visualisation projects.

The first is the work of Power2Switch, a Chicago startup that has come up with a tool for comparing different electricity companies. It offers the consumer the possibility of (finally) understanding what exactly they’re paying for, thanks to a unique invoice template.

The goal here is not just to produce a visually pleasing end product, but also to empower the customer (and help them achieve some savings) by giving a much better view of the energy they consume.

Our second project of the week is the work of Hyperakt, carried out for the Thomson Reuters Foundation to coincide with the G20 conference. Following the series of infographics they produced last year visualising the five most dangerous countries in the world for women, this independent New York design studio has teamed up with the same sponsors again, this time to highlight The G20’s Best and Worst Countries for Women.

Canada leads the way ahead of Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and France. The host of this year’s G20, Mexico, ranks 15th: 300 women were murdered in the Juarez region last year without a single ensuing conviction, while 25% of women have been sexually abused by their partners.

Our final static visualisation idea worth sharing this week is that of the CV infographic. The concept has been known about for quite some time, with platforms such as Visualize.me allowing you to connect to your LinkedIn account to produce a “purified” (how zen) representation of your career in the form of a stuffy timeline.

Enter the much more interactive (and successful) CVgram. A word of caution, however, about the colours. As much as producing a super stylish resume to dazzle prospective employers is be a wonderful idea, CVgram is also the perfect tool for making a really, really ugly CV.

Lest we be repeating ourselves here, an infographic that does its job is an infographic that is beautiful and informs. It might, therefore, be worth finding some inspiration first amongst this collection of infographic resumes.

Streets of Philadelphia

Paule d’Atha is sometimes called upon by students who are writing their thesis on data journalism. If there is one question that comes up again and again, it’s regarding the “newness” of the data journalist’s metier, and specifically the “graphic” representation of information. And our answer is always the same: of course it’s not new. All modern data journalists are doing is offering a breath of fresh air and regeneration into a practice that has existed for centuries.

For proof see these maps from the second half of the 1930’s, which demonstrate how at that time real estate firms were establishing a discriminantory cartography (“redlining maps”). This practise might go some way to explaining the residential segregation of major cities – in this case in the United States, in Philadelphia.

Focused on this particularly critical time period, this discriminating mapping evokes the spectre of institutionalized racism: zones identified as “predominantly Italian”, “coloured”, “Jewish”, and according to social classes (from “decadent” – the lowest of the low – to the “highest class”). The purpose was to identify “undesirable” neighbourhoods in order to direct people to residential areas which “agree” with their “group”.

A startling jolt when compared with the modern concept of social diversity, pushed to the extreme by US pre-war segregationists. One can also discover that the maps were accompanied by another wonderful practice full of humanity: grading your neighbourhoods. “Predominantly Italian” “workers” with an “infiltration” of “negroes”: Class D. The landlords and owners worked together to prevent the “negroes” in question from buying their houses, forcing them elsewhere.

Good sports

Two sporting data visualizations that we simply couldn’t ignore:

The first application is a major upgrade (but probably with very different financial resources) of the type of project OWNI carried out last year in collaboration with Eurosport surrounding the football transfer window. To coincide with Euro 2012, the project tracks the noise generated on Twitter by all the players participating in the competition, using technology provided by Syllabs, a French start-up specialising in semantic web analysis.

A “social” aspect coupled with the backing of a big data company (Opta, the market leader) makes for a rather compelling final result (for those who love football, that is) called Stats n’Tweets. At the very least the application is entertaining, which is no doubt the main objective.

The second is on US basketball (NBA), but deserves to compete in the Champions League of data. The project comes – for a change -from three New York Times data journalists, while the analysis was conducted by a geography teacher.

The concept: to demonstrate using a calorimetric map the areas of the field the teams in the NBA finals and their star players are the most dangerous in. It’s clean, it’s smart, it’s accessible to the uninitiated, it’s jQuery + CSS: it’s everything we love.

Butterfly effect

We close our weekly round-up with a video unearthed by Eric Scherer, which is “a Japanese animated infographic made ​​from public data and illustrating global seismic activity in 2011″. The month of March in Japan speaks for itself.

Have a good one everybody.


Find previous editions of The Week In Data on Owni.eu

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