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ManyEyes

Transparency in All Things: Even Research

Susan Moeller's picture

Wordtree of Al Jazeera's coverage graphically demonstrates how common a topic "fraud" was in framing the Afghan election.Transparency remains the sine qua non of the international development sector.  We preach its value to others; we see open records laws, for example, as key indicators of good governance.  But what we rarely discuss in the context of access to information, is the value not just of the data itself, but of transparency about how the data is analyzed.

Lots of studies come across each of our desks everyday.  Some come directly from the folks conducting the studies; the Pew Research Center, for example, sends me a weekly email of their work.  Some studies we learn about via the media: a news outlet itself or a pollster has completed a survey, and a news story summarizes the major takeaways.  And some studies come to us another step removed:  we pick up a book by Malcolm Gladwell or Ori Brafman, for example, and the author précis a study to argue his own insights.  

You Know and Use Web 2.0 Tools. What About Those of Science 2.0?

Susan Moeller's picture

Often the best way to communicate information about some distant event, issue or trend is to embed the news in a story that focuses on the experience of an individual.  Human incidents get the public’s attention—audiences identify with and react emotionally to stories about people.

Yet in the development sector, often the real news that needs to be told is not the human anecdotes but the statistics that have been collected.  But how can a non-technical audience understand a bunch of numbers?  How can the public see not only a trend, but a pattern, discover not just scale, but relationships?

The field of data visualization is exploding in importance as new technologies and software help government agencies speak to their constituencies,  multilateral organizations to their member states, NGOs to their donors, media outlets to their viewers and readers.  It now takes seconds to sift through reams of information and identify elusive patterns, locate important outliers, or confirm gut instincts.  The connections that can be made are only limited by the creativity and insights of those who have access to the information.