Around the Institute

Visualizing Data, Crafting a Story

July 6, 2012

Telling your Story in Style
We recently came across a very cool tool: Sparkwise. This website helps non-profits select the kinds of online data they want tracked and puts it all together in a user-friendly dashboard. Want to keep tabs on likes and re-posts of your Facebook notes? Check. Need to monitor your twitter followers? Check. Interested in tracking user views of your website? Double check. But more than an internal monitoring mechanism, Sparkwise is designed to help you tell your story better to your target audiences. And it’s oh-so-pretty.

Can You Judge a Book by its Cover?
Some publishers are hoping you do, especially now that they are revamping the covers of some classic novels to appeal to a younger demographic. Out is the cover art by some 18th century Flemish painter with the novel’s title embossed in elegant (baroque?) print; and in come the flashy covers suited for the tastes of the Twilight generation—that is, until they read the first sentence. Advocates know that appearances do matter, and that there should be a good balance between looks and content.

The Meaning of a Wi-Fi Name
We know that tweets come and go—lasting for roughly one hour, some say. Keeping this in mind, the folks at Open Signal Maps ask: can SSID names (the user-created names of Wi-Fi routers) tell us more about a theme or topic than the fleeting tweet? They conduct a study trying to determine people’s perception of President Obama via their router names (from “ILoVeObAma!!” to “NObama”). Yup, there are many factors limiting this study, one being whether individuals using routers form a representative group. Yet, kudos to Open Signal Maps for exploring non-traditional options to gauge popular opinion.