Data Visualization and the Humanities

In Journalism and Academia, the Search for Sense-Making Geoff McGhee Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University January 26, 2012

Research and Teaching Center at Stanford University

Creative Director for Media and Communications Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University 2010-Present

Issue Areas

• Environment and Resources • Economy and Political Science • History and Culture of the West

Issue Areas

• Environment and Resources • Economy and Political Science • History and Culture of the West

Issue Areas

• Environment and Resources • Economy and Political Science • History and Culture of the West

Issue Areas

• Environment and Resources • Economy and Political Science • History and Culture of the West • Data visualization for journalism    and scholarship

Some background …

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

ABC News, 1999-2000 The New York Times, 2000-2008

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

A Decade in Infographics and Multimedia

Study Year at Stanford

2009-2010 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship

Study Year at Stanford

2009-2010 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship

Study Year at Stanford

Back to School
• • • • •

Databases and database management Web application development Visualization theory and techniques Geographic information systems Statistics

2009-2010 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship

Interviews About Data Visualization

20-odd people in journalism, academia, research and art

Video Documentary

datajournalism.stanford.edu

Video Documentary

Video Documentary

Video Documentary

Video Documentary

datajournalism.stanford.edu

Why Now?

Dealing with Data
Explosion of Electronic Information
• 2003 estimate: 5 exabytes/day* new info • Open government/transparency movements • E-commerce, electronic record-keeping • Digitization of media (photos, music, books...) • Remote sensors, RFID tags, POS systems • Plummeting Cost of Storage • Data formats (XML, JSON, RDF… ), APIs • Social media

* Exabyte = 1 million terabytes

Dealing with Data
Challenges of the 21st Century
• Finding meaning in a flood of data Estimated 5 exabytes a day… in 2003! • Increasing velocity of decision-making, advent of real-time (or close) data • Responsible use of powerful information technology: smartphone tracking, facial recognition, other data collection methods • Government, business and individuals rethinking long-held habits in light of new, actionable information

Dealing with Data
The Promise of Data Visualization

Using the Eye-Brain Connection
• Bypass language centers, go direct to the visual cortex • Leverage ability to recognize patterns, visual sense-making • Powerful graphics chips enable animation, live data processing possible

Map of New Brainland by Unit Seven via Flickr

The Promise of Data Visualization
Everyday Use of Data to Make Decisions

Maps, GPS with live traffic

Farecast search results

Zillow, Trulia, real estate search engines

Donation Dashboard

Greatschools.org

SF Park

= We’re learning things that used to be unknown, unknowable or impractical to know.

The Promise of Data Visualization
But also larger insights about society ...

Twitter visualizations

Google Public Data Explorer

Politifact Obameter

U.S. State Department: “Opinion Space”

The Promise of Data Visualization
… and new insights about the past.

Google N-Grams

Baby Name Voyager

Gapminder: Human Development Over Time

Immigration Explorer

Frame of Reference:

Frame of Reference: Journalism

TRANSITION STANFORD = TOOLS FOR VISUALIZATION

“Members of a digitally savvy humanists argue it is time to stop looking for inspiration in the next political or philosophical "ism" and start exploring how technology is changing our understanding of the liberal arts. The last frontier is about method, they say, using powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials using powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials that previous humanities scholars did not have.” –The New York Times

republicofletters.stanford.edu

Visualizing the Enlightenment

“Mapping the Republic of Letters,” Stanford University (2009)
http://www.stanford.edu/group/toolingup/rplviz/

Visualizing the Enlightenment

“Mapping the Republic of Letters,” Stanford University (2009)
http://www.stanford.edu/group/toolingup/rplviz/

litlab.stanford.edu

spatialhistory.stanford.edu

spatialhistory.stanford.edu

What Now?

What Now?

What Now?

Founded by Stanford Historians

Founded by Stanford Historians

Nexus of Collaboration
Computer Science/ HCI

Natural Sciences/ Engineering

Bill Lane Center For the American West

Journalism/ Communications

Social Sciences

Humanities

Nexus of Collaboration
Computer Science/ HCI

Natural Sciences/ Engineering

Bill Lane Center For the American West

Journalism/ Communications

Social Sciences

Humanities

Nexus of Collaboration
Computer Science/ HCI

Natural Sciences/ Engineering

Bill Lane Center For the American West

Journalism/ Communications

Social Sciences

Humanities

Nexus of Collaboration
Computer Science/ HCI

Natural Sciences/ Engineering

Bill Lane Center For the American West

Journalism/ Communications

Social Sciences

Humanities

mappingtexts.stanford.edu

Nexus of Collaboration
Computer Science/ HCI

Natural Sciences/ Engineering

Bill Lane Center For the American West

Journalism/ Communications

Social Sciences

Humanities

Nexus of Collaboration
Computer Science/ HCI

Natural Sciences/ Engineering

Bill Lane Center For the American West

Journalism/ Communications

Social Sciences

Humanities

Journalism

Oso via Flickr

“Embedded” Journalists
John McChesney Veteran NPR Reporter • Multimedia field reporting • Stories on rural issues in contemporary West • Accompanying infographics and data vis

Video Documentaries
John McChesney Veteran NPR Reporter • Multimedia field reporting • Stories on rural issues in contemporary West • Accompanying infographics and data vis

Video Documentaries

Blend of Journalism and Scholarship

Blend of Journalism and Scholarship

Blend of Journalism and Scholarship

Blend of Journalism and Scholarship

Probabilistic Topic Decomposition of an Eighteenth-Century American Newspaper David J. Newman, Sharon Block, University of California, Irvine

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

The “Data Slide Show”

Going Deeper

"...Historical newspapers are currently being digitized at a scale that is rapidly overwhelming our traditional methods of research. The Chronicling America project (a joint endeavor of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress), for example, recently digitized its one millionth historical newspaper page, and they will soon make millions more freely available online. What can scholars do with such an immense wealth of information? Currently, they cannot do much. Without tools and methods capable of handling such large datasets—and thus sifting out meaningful patterns embedded within them—scholars typically find themselves confined to performing only basic word searches across enormous collections. While such basic searches can, indeed, find stray information scattered in unlikely places, they becoming increasingly less useful as datasets continue to grow in size. If a search for a particular term yields 4,000,000 results, even those search results produce a dataset far too large for any single scholar to analyze in a meaningful way using traditional methods."

Challenges

OCR “Quality”
THE EMPEROR BURIED GERMANYS RULER ENTOMBED WITH THE FATHERS Royalty ofMany Different Countries Witness the Ceremonies A Grand Pageant and Distinguished Honor to the Dead Kaiser Hit funeral of Emperor William took place at Brlln on the Itith Inst Ibo weather was tirain extremely cold and the troops wh were rungect four deep along the louta taken By the funeral lorteje wore heavy cloaks The temperature had no apparent effect upon the people and hundreds o thou ¬ sands o spectators occupied the space behind tb soldiers while every window along the Uuter den Linden was crowd ¬ ed All the heuses on the thorough re were covered with mourning and blbited flrgs with black drapery At e street crossings massive pillars surmounted by Pnuslan eagles had been erected The lamp posts were covered with crape an I at every fifty paies tuere were largo candelabra bearing darning crea ceou Thn toot uL UeLfuneral pio cesslun presented a miwtiinposiag is pect entirely in keeping with the deep snrro and reverence ot the people Thn centre of the road wan ntrewn with gravel and fir branches In Paruerplatz large stones entwined nil laurel were hung TheDuule burg gate < vaa craped anil there was large arch in front of It upon which v re the words God lilts You Ihe funeral service took place In th athedral In accordance with the pro ¬ gramme Emperor Frederick wai no present the weatuer being too revere t lit him exposing himself Thusei ice beg n Kith a soft prelude in tb organ duri ng which tbe mourners be gun to assemble Dr Korgcl the cour chaplain read passages troin the DOtb Psalm and verses 15 an 1 2H of the 14th chapter of John The chnir sung I Know that my UoJeemcr Llvpth Pas sages were then read from iaalu 101 and Timothy 4th chapter 8th versa the chaplain concluding with the wirds 1 Blessed are the dead who dm in the Lordnow and evermore

Next Steps

Next Step

Thanks! gmcghee@stanford.edu Twitter: @mcgeoff

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