Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Best of the Web

Best of the Web

Last week we looked at the ability of location-based storytelling to tell the story from a wider point of view, the collection of individual bits of information and personal experiences telling a more holistic or well-rounded version of the story, something along the lines of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. This week we look at data and how it is affecting storytelling today. Data is often the backbone of a story.  Whether is was the accounting of how many bison early hunter-gatherers saw on the plains to the global poverty line and how we as individuals relate to the data.

It is true data doesn’t lie, but it is rarely pretty to look at. The problem was that all that raw data, pages and pages of information that is often too cryptic for the layperson to understand, was simply too much information to go through. Now with the advent of technologies such as modern Web browsers, data-crunching server farms and data-visualization methods, “big data” is no longer only in the domain of researchers and scientists. Modern software or computer-assisted journalism tools are making it increasingly easier to sift, disseminate and even visualize data.  With organizations such as making “mountains” of raw data available, “big data” is more accessible to the masses.  Data can now help the viewer have a better understanding of a story or issue, and complex visualizations and interactive graphics allow the audience to interpret data in a much wider view where patterns become more recognizable. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Tweetping is a new social media barometer, at least as far as tweets go.  The website is a real-time map that visualizes tweets around the globe.  Watching the sheer number of hashtags and tweets originating out of every continent as they are written is mesmerizing to watch.

Every meteorite fall on earth mapped
Slamming into Russia’s Chelyabinsk region, with a blast equivalent of a 300-kiloton dynamite blast, the largest meteorite in over a century streaked across the Russian sky today. Coincidentally, asteroid 2012 DA14 made an unusually close flyby to Earth, at just 17,200 miles away. With all this news of meteors and asteroids, one would wonder if the sky is falling. According to the Guardian UK’s “Every meteorite fall on earth mapped,” the sky has been falling for some time.

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks
Compiled from 2007-2011 United States Census Bureau data, Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks is a map of the income and rent in every neighborhood in America.  The map allows you to enter a city name and address to get a quick block-to-block visual on income and rent disparities.

Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait
Photographer Chris Jordan combines his photography with raw data to examine societal issues around the world. Coming from a belief that statistics can feel abstract, Jordan assembles thousands of images to form collages that he hopes will direct the viewer to explore subjects such as nuclear proliferation and plastic surgery through a different perspective.

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