Saturday, January 30, 2010

Journalism, Data, Visualization

This is time series data of crimes reported in Virginia Beach from 2007-2009. There are stories in this data. Perhaps some are significant. Perhaps many are not.

We don't know because we don't consider the data in this way.

What is that spike in 2007? If nothing else it is statistically unusual. But why?

What is the story behind the 247 crimes that were reported on this single day, June 1, 2007?

It doesn't look like there was a trending increase in reported crime.

Still, what accounts for the difference between the low of 78 crimes on April 20, 2007? Should we just chalk it up to summer tourism?

Is there nothing we can learn from this? Are there stories that might inform future generations?

My Initial Takeaways from City Camp

I posted this in a comment thread in GovLoop; copying here so it can be read without requiring a login:

My biggest takeaways:

It's essential to get a good mix of perspective. We had civil servants, vendors, journalists, non-profits, and citizens. It would not have been as successful if it was gov-to-gov, vendor-to-vendor, or even gov-to-vendor.

It's essential that the conversation not revolve entirely around tech and data. In 2010 we can assume that technology and data are involved. We're just scratching the surface on process. And the processes involved are not just about methods and means for collecting-publishing-visualizing data. Providing greater opportunities to get citizens' voices heard and to increase their engagement in civic duty is important.

There is a new and important role for journalism: tell the stories behind the tech and the data. However, journalists may not have the education and knowledge to do this well. Interpreting stats is hard. I am excited to see Global Integrity stepping up to start a "help desk" specifically to work this problem. I think there is a new "extreme programming" model that papers could adopt; or perhaps to put it in terms papers already understand: pair your journalists up with data-viz-stats people like you pair them up with photographers.

People want what City Camp provided. We are going to learn from it, refine it, and keep it going.

Don't wait for me or Jen to keep City Camp going. Anyone can do this anywhere at anytime. Copy what works. Adapt for your local perspective. Just do it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

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