After Google Fusion Tables generates a map for you, it displays all the info from your spreadsheet for each dot on the map. When you click a dot, an info window opens.
YOU CAN CHANGE the way this information looks in the window. But you need to know a little HTML and some CSS to do it.
- [photo] Open the menu on the map tab (this is in the new version of Fusion Tables). Select “Change info window layout.”
- [photo] Click the Custom tab and edit the HTML there.
- [photo] View your new, improved info window!
Looking for more tips on how to create maps in Fusion Tables? John Keefe, WNYC’s award winning data journalist, gave a great presentation at ONA12, which focused on using Google Fusion Tables. You can find his notes from the Intro to Data Viz presentation on the ONA12 site.
Nieman Journalism highlights OpenStreetMap, one of the six Knight News Challenge: Data winners that were announced at ONA12. With so much energy being put into mapping by technology giants lately, we’re interested to see how this open source mapping project fares now that it’s received $575,000 from the Knight Foundation.
“Like Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap is a map that anyone can edit. The data comes from volunteers who use GPS devices or just local knowledge to map their environments. If you want to fix a mistake, just hit the ubiquitous “Edit” button.”
Nieman Lab has ongoing coverage of the Knight News Challenge winners that we highly recommend you check out.
I worry about an over-reliance on abstract digital data points for measuring impact just as news organizations begin to take seriously what it means to engage with their communities in meaningful ways. In making their new mapping application Apple relied too much on data sets, without testing that data against the real world. Journalists shouldn’t make the same mistake.
Journalism by numbers does not mean ceding human process to the bots. Every algorithm, however it is written, contains human, and therefore editorial, judgments. The decisions made about what data to include and exclude adds a layer of perspective to the information provided. There must be transparency and a set of editorial standards underpinning the data collection.
The truth is, those streams of numbers are going to be as big a transformation for journalism as rise of the social Web. Newsrooms will rise and fall on the documentation of real-time information and the ability to gather and share it. Yet while social media demands skills of conversation and dissemination familiar to most journalists, the ability to work with data is a much less central skill in most newsrooms, and still completely absent in many.
Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, argues that journalists and media companies should embrace data journalism in the current cover story for Columbia Journalism Review.
Read more: Journalism by numbers : CJR
Winners of Information is Beautiful Announced
Information is Beautiful announced 27 winners in 15 categories in their first Information is Beautiful Awards on Friday. The awards recognize excellent data journalism, visualization, infographics and more. The full list of winners can be seen on their website.
Murder in America
The Wall Street Journal takes FBI data from 2000 to 2010 to analyze the who, what, where, why, how and when murders take place across America.
All 165,068 in the decade analyzed.
The interactive they’ve created lets users sort and explore “why” a murder occurred (eg., Lover’s Triangle, Gang Killing and a large bucket of “Other”), who was killed and by whom (by race, sex and relationship), what weapon was used (eg., gun, knife, blunt object, etc.), when murders occurred (by year) and where they occurred (by state).
Needless to say, guns top the weapons category. While unlikely, getting pushed or thrown out a window has occurred 35 times.
Most often the relationship between the victim and killer is unknown (in over 70,000 cases). How or why this doesn’t become known goes unexplained but acquaintances accounted for over 27,000 murders, strangers for over 25,000.
In the good to know but it goes against our folk history category: the least likely to commit murder are stepmothers with 57 killings attributed to them in the decade analyzed.
The WSJ notes in their methodology that the data they’re working with has many holes in it. For example:
The FBI collects this data from the states, except for Florida. Florida doesn’t use the FBI’s guidelines when reporting additional information about homicides. The FBI data don’t capture all homicides. The states’ reporting is voluntary, and the country’s thousands of police agencies aren’t consistent in how they report. Some states, including New York, reported no justifiable homicides at all for some years. In recording the circumstances of a murder, the information recorded in the FBI data may capture only the relationship of the killer to one of the victims — but not other victims — in a given situation. Because of the unlimited number of scenarios in which a homicide can occur, the coding used in the FBI database may not explain the full set of circumstances involved.
That said, an interesting data set and interactive but view it as a big picture account of murder in America.
Image: Detail, Murder in America, by the Wall Street Journal.
ONA12 is now sold out!
If you’re interested in joining us in San Francisco, we’ve still got space at the Thursday Workshops. Get an intro to design thinking, learn to code, or tell stories with data in one of the nine hands-on Workshops. You don’t have to be registered for the conference to attend them.
Brian Boyer, formerly of the Chicago Tribune News Apps team and now with NPR’s news apps team, discusses why it’s critical that data visualization is not just beautiful, but also useful. He touches on how important it is for journalists and designers to work together.
This video is one of the talks recently released from the International Symposium on Online Journalism, held in Austin in April 2012.