Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mainstreaming Statistics

The National Infrastructure for Community Statistics (NICS) project had a conversation in 2005 about becoming a "Google" for community indicators. Now Google has apparently decided it wants to be the Google for statistics.

A Swedish newspaper is reporting that Google is buying Trendalyzer, says Where Most Needed, a charity industry blog. (Thanks for the heads-up!) Google's announcement says:

... we are excited to announce that we have acquired Gapminder's Trendalyzer software, and we welcome the Trendalyzer team to Google. Trendalyzer generates moving graphics and other novel effects in the display of facts, figures, and statistics in presentations. In its nimble hands, Trendalyzer views development data—such as regional income distribution or trends in global health—as literally a world of opportunity. Like Google, Gapminder strives to make information more useful, and Trendalyzer will improve any function or application in which data might be better visualized.

Gathering data and creating useful statistics is an arduous job that often goes unrecognized. We hope to provide the resources necessary to bring such work to its deserved wider audience by improving and expanding Trendalyzer and making it freely available to any and all users capable of thinking outside the X and Y axes.

Adding Gapminder to a set of free tools that includes Many Eyes and Swivel is exciting, and should lead to much more interesting data displays.

For those of you who are old-school, or who want a thorough grounding in how to display statistical information, I heartily recommend Edward R. Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. The nifty bells and whistles technology can provide us today require judicious use (has PowerPoint really made presentations more interesting? It can, but in the wrong hands ....) Plus, you can see what charts and graphs looked like when scratched on a stone thousands of years ago. The representation of Napoleon's march on Russia is one of the most amazing visual displays of quantitative information I've ever seen.

1 comment:

  1. Ben,

    Thank you for checking out Swivel! We appreciate you linking to our site and we would love to contribute some graphs. If there are every any data sets or graphs that you are looking for, please think of Swivel as your own data and infographics department! Just e-mail me or call me directly and we will help find you some Tasty Data Goodies.

    Happy Swiveling!

    Chris Grisanti