Gone But Not Forgotten

Hello, you've landed on DATA eh? - Open Data Toronto's original blog space for data discussions. This is not an active blog at the moment but legacy posts are still here. Have a read ... you can still provide comments.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Telling stories with DATA

By Keith McDonald
The concept of story telling goes back ... way back ... way, way back to when humans first got together in groups. Story telling isn't new but, when you think about using data as a means to tell stories, I think it opens up a new way to look at Open Data.

How Does Data Tell A Story?
If you are new to this whole "Open Data" thing, you might think it's way too technical. It can be but it doesn't have to be. Especially if you look at it from a story telling standpoint. What can data tell you? Lots!

To get started data story writing you can turn to many of the programs available on the web that make visualizations of data easy - just dump in what you have, hit some buttons and voila - you get a story!

Here is a place to find some free visualization programs. We can't vouch for them so you'll have to explore on your own.

I tried TagCrowd and this is an example of what showed up when I entered just the first few paragraphs of this post:

available buttons concept data dump easy explore free groups hit humans means open programs standpoint story technical telling think together visualization voila vouch whole
created at TagCrowd.com

The TagCloud website says you can use the application "for visualizing word frequencies in any text by creating what is popularly known as a word cloud, text cloud or tag cloud".

I also love the writing for how they say you can use it:
"A word cloud is a beautiful, informative image that communicates much in a single glance ... making word clouds easy to read, analyze and compare, for a variety of useful purposes:
  • as topic summaries for speeches and written works
  • as blog tool or website analysis for search engine optimization (SEO)
  • for visual analysis of qualitative data
  • as brand clouds that let companies see how they are perceived by the world
  • for data mining a text corpus
  • for helping writers and students reflect on their work
  • as name tags for conferences, cocktail parties or wherever new collaborations start
  • as resumes in a single glance
  • as visual poetry
The list goes on and continues to grow."
More complicated stories (maybe novels?) come when using more robust programs. A key though, in all of this, is having the raw data available to plug in and go. We're happy to be contributing to release of raw data in the City of Toronto.

BuzzData And Proving It!
We noticed at the BuzzData Blog, they are running a contest asking users to "tell the story behind data".

Check it out here.

Be interesting to see what transpires story wise and how (if any) City of Toronto data is used in this contest.

DATA eh? #3

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