Robert Kosara on the HBR Blog Network: “Visualization is easy, right? After all, it’s just some colorful shapes and a few text labels. But things are more complex than they seem, largely due to the the ways we see and digest charts, graphs, and other data-driven images. While scientifically-backed studies do exist, there are actually many things we don’t know about how and why visualization works. To help you make better decisions when visualizing your data, here’s a brief tour of the research.”
Tal Kopan in Politico: “The term open data brings to mind images of next bus apps and geeks poring over data sets about potholes, but advocates say the next phase could go far beyond the smartphone — changing the way cities and governments tackle big problems and even how they work together.
Experts see increased collaboration and universalized standards as upcoming steps to take open data’s recent success stories to the next level — and keep moving it toward its next act, which could involve addressing issues as complex as climate change, education and public health”
Tim Davies in The Guardian: “In practice, datasets themselves are political objects, and policies to open up datasets are the product of politics. If you look beyond the binary fight over whether government data should be open or not, then you will find a far more subtle set of political questions over the what and the how of opening data. Datasets are built from the categories and relationships that the database designer (or their political masters) decide are important…. The design of a dataset has a big impact on the policy that can be made with it. The practical and political decisions that went into constructing a dataset do not disappear when that dataset is opened, but are instead carried with it.”
From Peter Welsch at the White House: “On the first weekend in June, civic activists, technology experts, and entrepreneurs around the country will gather together for the National Day of Civic Hacking. By combining their expertise with new technologies and publicly released data, participants hope to build tools that help others in their own neighborhoods and across the United States”.
Apply for the National Day of Civic Hacking at the White House. The deadline for applications is 5:00pm on Friday, April 19.
From the intro (Flash Eurobarometer) :“This report examines the extent to which European citizens engage in participatory
democracy, and the extent to which they believe that political decision-making can be influenced through their own actions and through those of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The first section examines the respondents’views of NGOs and similar associations, asking whether such groups have the power to influence local, national and EU decision-making. Respondents are also
asked whether NGOs share their own interests and values, and whether European citizens need these types of organisations.
In the second section, the discussion switches to the perceived effectiveness of various means of influencing political decision-making, especially voting in local, national and European elections. Respondents are also asked to consider whether joining an NGO is an effective way of exerting influence.
The third and final section covers citizens’ engagement in political decision-making, examining whether respondents seek to express their views by signing petitions or by communicating through social media, for example. Finally, the discussion turns to the level of participation in NGOs and other associations, such as Trade Unions.”
Kenneth Neil Cukier, data-editor at the Economist and co-author of “Big Data”: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (listen to an interview with Kenneth on NPR) recently explained at Big Think a new term that describes how data mediates our lives : Datafication.
“Datafication refers to the fact that we’re looking at more aspects of life that we never actually understood as being informational before. And finding out that that in fact there is an informational quality to it that we can render into a data format. So what we’re seeing with social media companies is they’re actually datafying aspects of the life that we never really saw that could be datafied. So for example Facebook datafies our friendships. Twitter datafies our whispers or maybe our stray thoughts. And LinkedIn datafies our professional contacts. And more and more and more are we seeing that we’re able to take the daily interactions of living, things that we never really saw that can be rendered into a data format and we’re putting it into data formats.”
Potential of datafication for re-imagining governance? Kenneth:
“you can just use your imagination and think of some of the extraordinary uses. One way that we’re doing it is looking at who contacts whom on Twitter and who’s one’s followers are. And we’re able to identify that, and we never known this before that subpopulations exist that are either immunized for the flu or are not. Now it’s a public health issue. The whole point of vaccinations is that you take a broad population, you vaccinate many but not all and everyone is covered. What we’ve just now learned with Twitter is that this idea of herd immunity might not be the case because there’s whole subgroups of the population that all don’t get vaccinated yet they all hang out together. They do virtually and we’re seeing that those virtual ties are also physical ties. I want to stress this sounds like it might be an intuitive thing. It’s not. It sounds like this might just be a nice thing to know, it’s deadly important. It’s very serious.”
Watch the Video ofKenneth on Datafication: