Posts Tagged ‘Flickr’

I taught a class Monday in data visualization for Josh Grimm’s In-Depth Reporting class at LSU.

I’m no expert in data visualization, but I studied the use of interactive databases for the American Press Institute in 2008 and my students experimented with a variety of data viz tools last spring in my course on learning interactive storytelling tools. (I’ll add some links to the students’ posts on data-viz tools later, but I want to get this published now and I won’t have time to add links until later.)

My point in this class is that you can tell stories lots of different ways using data, and that you can teach yourself pretty easily how to use some effective data viz tools. I admire the skills of some data specialists I know, and hope some of our students will follow them into that specialty. But I hope every student (and professional) journalist develops data skills to find and tell stories routinely.

Examples I used in the class (and a few I didn’t have time to use):

Thanks to Kyle Whitfield, Mark Lorando, Tom Meagher, Maryjo Webster, Daniel Tedford, Kevin Dupuy and Michelle Rogers for providing these examples.

I collected information from the students using a Google Form and used it to create some data visualizations about the class using Infogr.am and Google Maps. I was running out of time and rushed through these pretty quickly, but you can make pretty simple graphics quickly using these tools. I elaborate a bit more here on some of them.

I wasn’t able to embed the resulting Infogr.am graphics in my free WordPress blog (they should embed on most websites). Here are some screen grabs of the graphics (with links below to the interactive versions):

Infogram devices

You can see the interactive version of the graphic on devices here.

This pie chart, I noted, would be more effective with graduated shades (perhaps yellow to red) than the random colors assigned to each number:

number of devices

In a graphic about the students’ use of social media, I tried different data viz tools offered by Infogr.am. This line chart didn’t work for me (though it might work for other detail). An effective graphic makes a point quickly and this one requires some study:

infogram line graph

This horizontal bar graph also took a bit of work to understand, but quickly shows that the most popular social tools with the students are Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and that the students aren’t using Foursquare at all. The graphic on devices was filled out later, when I had 26 responses instead of 24.

I deliberately didn’t update this because it actually illustrates some points you need to check in doing data visualization: The data need to be accurate. My first take of this didn’t have fully accurate data: You can see that I only have 23 responses, instead of 24, on Snapchat and Instagram. Actually, I had 24 responses at the time, but failed to double-check my data before uploading it for the graphic. These are the kinds of errors you need to avoid and double-checking you need to do both before uploading data and after finishing a visualization project.

infogram bar chart

The most effective graphic on social networks, I thought, was this layered pie chart, where you can (in the interactive version, not the screengrab below) see how differently students use the social tools. It would have been more effective, though, with a gradual color scale, perhaps with yellow for 1, orange for 3 and red for 5, with shades in between at 2 and 4. But I was trying to show how quickly you can make a simple graphic. That’s the first step in data visualization. I’d expect such improvements in subsequent projects.

infogram pie chart

Moving to Google Maps, I quickly imported information from the spreadsheet of student responses to create a map showing where the students were from (that embed works here):

During the class, Deanna Narveson did a quick data viz project on social media engagement by Louisiana gubernatorial candidates:

Dashboard 1

Here are my slides from the class:

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I can’t remember the last time I posted a photo to Flickr or checked in on Foursquare.

I have no idea whether either or both social platforms will thrive just fine without me or whether others are moving away from them, too, and they’ll fade away soon.

Flickr was the first social network I used actively. I joined in June 2006, about six months before joining LinkedIn. Back when sending huge emails with lots of attachments was a big deal, Flickr was convenient for sharing photos. I’d just send out a link to photos of Mimi and me visiting Bryce Canyon or a shot of the family gathered for a wedding. I’d email links to family and friends along with an account of the trip or the gathering, and they would email back with encouraging or funny or sympathetic remarks, depending on the nature of my photo or message.

It was actually quite like posting a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter today. Except that the conversation all happened on email, rather than on Flickr. Most of my family and friends never joined Flickr. But since my photos were public, they could see them and I shared photos more regularly than most of them.  (more…)

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Perspective and context can entirely change how people view numbers. Which number seems larger: 16 percent or 30 million? Without perspective and context, it’s hard to say. In this case, they actually are the same number.

A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 16 percent of adult Internet users use Twitter (that works out to 13 percent of all adults, doing the math from the survey’s sample of all adults). If that strikes you as a small number, then consider 30 million instead. That’s the number you get if you apply that 13 percent to the nation’s adult population. For comparison, daily newspaper circulation in the United States is 44 million. (Readership is higher.)

Why should journalists or newsrooms care about a service that six out of seven adults don’t even use? That’s where perspective and context come in.

The Pew study also found that 20 percent of the adult Internet users use LinkedIn, substantially more than use Twitter. But what the study didn’t show is how much the people use each service. The question asked was:

Please answer these next questions by thinking about all the ways you use the internet with computers, laptops, mobile phones, and other devices. Please tell me if you ever use the internet or an app with any of those devices to use (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) (more…)

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Journalists have lots of tools for showcasing our work.

If you’re a college student or recent graduate looking for work or a veteran journalist out of work or looking for a better job, you need an online showcase where prospective bosses can find your best work quickly and study your work at length if they’re interested.

The job-hunter faces a dual challenge: You need to catch a prospective boss’s attention quickly and you want to hold the attention, getting him or her to keep perusing your work, wanting to read or view more. You want to provide a quick overview and you want to help the interested person browse your work at length.

We’re way past the days of deciding which half-dozen hard-copy clips to stuff into an envelope with your résumé. Unless an employer specifically asks for a hard-copy application, you should apply by email with a hyperlinked résumé. Even if the employer asks for hard-copy (and if you want to work for someone who needs hard copy), you need a URL (or a few) at the top, guiding your future boss to a place to study your work at length.

Trust me: As someone who’s received hundreds of résumés from wannabe employees, you shouldn’t send a résumé longer than one page to a prospective employer. If I can tell the story of my 40-year career in a page, you can keep yours to a page; a few years ago when I was job-hunting, I thought my long career justified multiple pages. But then I got my job and started getting résumés from people who wanted to work for me. I then resolved to keep it to a single page if I ever was job-hunting again. You have a few seconds to stand out from the others. Make your case in a single page, but use links to make that page a table of contents for the prospective boss who wants to know more.  At the top of the page, include a link — or a few links — to a place or places where they can learn about your career in depth and see your digital and social skills at work.

Even if, like me, you’re enjoying your job and feeling secure, with no interest in leaving, a strong digital profile is a good idea. Sadly, many journalists have lost their jobs with little warning. And even while you’re working, a strong online profile can help build credibility with sources and colleagues (who are Googling you, whether you know it or not).

Partly because I’m constantly checking out new tools and partly because people looking for jobs contact me frequently, I’ve dabbled with a variety of tools to showcase your résumé and your portfolio or help you tell your career story (founders invited me to try out a couple of new tools). In most cases, I have not fleshed these profiles out as fully as I would if I were looking for a job. I would need to upload more photos and clips from my pre-digital years if I wanted to use these tools to their fullest effect. (more…)

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I didn’t have time during yesterday’s Twitter webinar to answer all the questions. I will provide quick answers here (so I can get to them all today), no more than one paragraph each. If you’d like me to elaborate on a topic, tell me in the comments and I may make it a future blog post, though often I will be linking to previous posts. I have edited some of the questions for brevity and to make them general, rather than applying to a specific newsroom. Participants in the webinar were Digital First Media (Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group) journalists.

Q: Can you offer some quick tips for our really new Twitter users about how to get started on tweeting when you’re still rather unfamiliar and unsure about Twitter?

My updated and expanded Twitter tips have a section on getting started. (more…)

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I need to make better use of Facebook.

When I started using Facebook almost four years ago, I understood the basic idea: connecting and reconnecting with friends. I enjoyed some of that right away, finding an old college friend I hadn’t seen or heard from in years and staying in better touch with lots of other friends.

But I didn’t understand other things: For instance, I found it annoying when a friend wanted to compare favorite movies. I didn’t want to annoy the friend by not playing, but I didn’t really care to find out if I was “soulmates” with a casual friend (as one game suggested about a friend with similar favorite movies). Somehow, I don’t think soulmate is defined as someone you drift out of touch with until a computer program finds the person.

As I was trying to figure out Facebook, I started using Twitter, which was even more confusing at first (fewer friends were using, and I didn’t understand the 140-character limit). But as I started to understand Twitter and use it more, it quickly soared past Facebook in my understanding, appreciation and use. (more…)

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Our entrepreneurial journalism class at Georgetown will be discussing social media the next two weeks. Of course, you could do a whole course on social media, which offer some of the most important tools an entrepreneurial journalist will use, so this will be an overview more than a deep dive.

Social media can be part of the solution for all three of the key challenges an entrepreneurial journalist faces: content, distribution and monetization. (more…)

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