Around the Institute

Making Pretty Pictures and Defining Success

July 31, 2015  • Institute Contributor

Vrroom Vrroom
As we blogged last month, the question of “what works” in advocacy and policy change is a hot topic. Over the transom this week we heard that the American Motorcyclist Association is holding an advocacy breakfast discussing the positive results of their new grassroots strategy – like more members, more social media followers, more petition signatures. Our observation: conclusions about “what works” depend on what measure of success you’re using. So to discern lessons for the field, do advocates (including the burly motorcycling variety), funders, and evaluators all need to agree on what success looks like?

Brought to you by: SNA TIG Week!
For those of you who don’t follow the AEA365 blog like us unabashed devotees over here, you might have missed a series of posts on Social Network Analysis (SNA) last week. We like the intuitive examples of what you can do with it – and the helpful advice on how to do it thoughtfully. And if that’s not enough to woo you to join the AEA SNA TIG, there’s always the “wow factor” of the pretty pictures.

Welcome to the dark side
Speaking of pretty pictures – here’s a timely reminder about the “darker side” of data visualization. As Elissa Schloesser of Visual Voice illustrates, the same data set can be used to make two very different “visual arguments.” Check out this podcast and this article for some food for thought on how to be a thoughtful creator and consumer of data viz.

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