I’ve been using The Guardian’s clever Second Screen webpage-slash-app during much of the Olympics. It is, frankly, a little too clever for its own good, requiring a certain learning curve to understand its full functionality.
But one particular element has really caught my eye: the Twitter activity histogram.
In the diagram below – presented to users before they use Second Screen – this histogram is highlighted in the upper left corner.
What the histogram provides is an instant visual cue to help in hunting down key events.
In researching my book chapter (UPDATE: now published) I asked a group of journalists who worked with data what led them to do so. Here are their answers:
Jonathon Richards, The Times:
The flood of information online presents an amazing opportunity for journalists, but also a challenge: how on earth does one keep up with; make sense of it? You could go about it in the traditional way, fossicking in individual sites, but much of the journalistic value in this outpouring, it seems, comes in aggregation: in processing large amounts of data, distilling them, and exploring them for patterns. To do that – unless you’re superhuman, or have a small army of volunteers – you need the help of a computer.
I ‘got into’ data journalism because I find this mix exciting. It appeals to the traditional journalistic instinct, but also calls for a new skill which, once harnessed, dramatically expands the realm of ‘stories I could possibly investigate…’ Continue reading →