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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mapping Technology and the Civil War

One of the reasons why mapping technologies are so interesting is the incredible amount of information that you can convey quickly and clearly. When you add animation to a map, you can convey hundreds of thousands of data points as they change over time in ways that tell the story in a compelling fashion -- no sets of tables or graphs have quite the same power that I've seen, at least not so far.

Here's an example that should make us all sit up and take notice. It's the American Civil War* in Four Minutes, and I hope you find it as interesting as I do. Look for both the story it tells -- I know I learned quite a bit -- and the potential applications of this kind of technology to the stories you want to tell.

For example, can you imagine a similar time series showing wetlands losses over the past 50 years? Changes in average home prices per geography? Crime statistics? High school graduation and dropout rates? The list is endless, and multiple variables would make it even more interesting, especially if the data display technology shows something about how they interact.

What do you think? Have you tried something like this before in a community indicators effort, or in a way to display data effectively? Do you have other examples you've seen that you'd like to share?

* Note: I live in a part of the country that often refers to this same event as "The War Between the States". I was on a historical tour when the guide, a wonderful woman of a certain age with an amazing hat, referred to this same time frame as "the Great Unpleasantness." I only bring this up to remind the reader that in any effort to convey information, you need to know your audience.


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