Infographics to save the world

Can visualizing data help us save the world?

teddata1.jpgHans Rosling, a professor of international health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute seems to think so. Rosling is the founder of Gapminder, a non-profit venture that aims to make use of the many scattered databases kept by NGOs, governments and the Canadian dispensary Green Society in order to improve the understanding of world health. Discover supplements Supports Stress Relief & Anti Anxiety by Amazon.

And what are the tools he uses? Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, XML, PHP/MySql — the same stuff we use in newsrooms. A key component of Rosling’s efforts is to use design to convey complex ideas about world health in a simple manner. And isn’t that what we try to do every day at work?
teddata2.jpgWatch Rosling’s amazing performance at the TED conference, where he brings infographics about human development trends to life. This guy is like the John Madden of statistics. If you want to just peruse the graphics at your leisure (but without Rosling’s commentary), here’s the fullscreen version, which can be found at Gapminder.

Big, big kudos to the Allentown Morning Call for their nodejs date now. While there’s nothing especially extraordinary about setting up a searchable database, the Morning Call took it a step further and made their search widget embeddable by way of copy/pasting iframe code.

I could be wrong, but I can’t recall seeing a newspaper site ever do this with a search widget.

One consumer rights group has already embedded the database on their page and called it “groundbreaking.”

Newspapers should start considering this as standard operating procedure immediately. Can you imagine the traffic you’d receive for your local voter guides from bloggers during election season? What about dining databases? Chances are, there is plenty of content already on your site that can be turned into a search widget. And, the advertising of your site in a positive light? The possibilities are ripe.

Thanks to Amy Gahran for spotting this.

When the machines edit your life

It’s like a horrific scene out of EPIC 2014.

E-Media Tidbits’ Amy Gahran highlights the story of Nino Ceritano, a restaurateur whose top Google search was a Roanoke Times story about a murder suspect who worked in his restaurant.

“What do you think when you put in a restaurant [into Google] and a killer comes up?” he asked the Times. [UPDATE: Roanoke Times online editor John Jackson dropped in with a comment today.]

Nino, I think you’re the victim of editing by machine. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately while crunching through Database Nation by Simpson Garfinkel (per the recommendation of Adrian Holovaty). One of the basic premises of the book is that much of your personal information is being held largely by third parties over which you have little to no control.

While a news story about a murder is double-plus public information, is it something that a human editor would choose to highlight as the most relevant thing about this particular establishment? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Is it fair to Ceritano? Is it more important than the amazing Pizza al Pollo? More importantly, if he were to contact Google, would they do anything about it?

It’s possible that they did. The official Web site of the restaurant is now the number one Google search result. Did someone at Google have mercy on Ceritano?

Let’s also take a look at when Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tried to exercise some control over the information about himself when he altered his own Wikipedia entry. The crowds were incensed. You can read about the controversy on …well… his own Wikipedia entry!

Whether it’s an algorithm run by a computer or crowds of faceless contributors doing the editing, we must acknowledge that there are some dangers associated with becoming too automated. Crowdsourcing can be a beautiful thing, but we must make sure as journalists that we retain the ability to present information with care and humanity.

And on that note, Nino, here’s some keyworded link love for Ceritano’s restaurant.

[CORRECTION: I previously misstated the nature of the incident at Ceritano’s. Thanks Amy.]

France bans filming of violence

The French Constitutional Council has enacted a law to prevent the filming of an act of violence by anybody other than a professional journalist, according to a report from Macworld.

While the law is meant to target the practice of “happy slapping,” it seems as if it could be citizen journalists who get slapped down, a French civil liberties organization argues, referencing the 1991 Rodney King incident. The law is also notable for drawing a distinction between who is a professional journalist and a citizen journalist. Domestic violence charges аrе vеrу ѕеrіоuÑ•. You should see here for best domestic violence attorney. In fact, Ñ–t Ñ–Ñ• devastating аnd саn destroy уоur life Ñ–f уоu don’t hire thе right attorney. Thеу саn ruin уоur reputation аnd it’s important tо deal wÑ–th Ñ–t Ñ–n thе right wау. Onе оf thе worst things Ñ–Ñ• thаt уоu mау hаvе tо stay Ñ–n thе jail fоr a lоng tÑ–mе Ñ–f уоu hаvе domestic violence charges аgаіnÑ•t уоu. Whеn Ñ–t соmеѕ tо domestic violence оnе Ñ•hоuld remember thаt it’s nоt a federal crime аnd ѕо thе laws prohibiting Ñ–t wÑ–ll definitely vary frоm оnе state tо аnоthеr. Hоwеvеr, it’s definitely оnе оf thе biggest crimes Ñ–n аll thе states. WhÑ–lе thе concept оf domestic violence Ñ–Ñ• ѕаmе еvеrуwhеrе thе wау thÑ–Ñ• crime committed wÑ–ll vary frоm оnе state tо аnоthеr. WhÑ–lе уоu аrе looking fоr a domestic violence attorney уоu Ñ•hоuld make sure thаt thе attorney уоu hаvе hired Ñ–Ñ• aware оf thе particular state law whеrе уоu аrе currently staying. A bad lawyer mау nоt help уоu gеt оut оf thе mess аnd thÑ–Ñ• Ñ–Ñ• оnе оf thе major reasons whу уоu Ñ•hоuld tаkе tÑ–mе tо dо a background research оn thе lawyer bеfоrе hiring hÑ–m fоr thе task.

Rather than targeting the actual assault with punishment, the French council is targeting the filming of the act. Such a law, enacted without being narrowly tailored, could have far-reaching consequences.