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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, February 13, 2008

Track-n-Graph and the Future of Indicators Work

There's an exciting new website out there you should know about -- Track-n-Graph. It describes itself as "a FREE web-based service for friends, family, and co-workers to track and graph information." It's straight-forward and simple to use -- I'll be exploring it further in the next few days.

I found out about it through the Information Aesthetics blog, which says the following about Track-n-Graph:

a web-based service to track & graph information. users can create, sharer & embed their own data trackers as well as customize existing visualization templates, such as a weight tracker, a child growth tracker, a calorie counter, a workout tracker & a blood pressure monitor. currently offered visualizations methods include bar, line & area graphs.

track-n-graph is another social visualization website, quietly filling the space between Many Eyes & Swivel & the charting APIs from Google or Yahoo.

I am firmly convinced that technological advances in the way we obtain, display, and share data are quietly revolutionizing the field we work in, and the only way to maintain relevancy is to stay on top of this work. My organization has been publishing an annual community indicators report since 1985. Our reports changed little between 1985 and 2001 in format, structure, design, or display -- they were consistent, professional, clear, and accurate. But no one accused them of being exciting.

We've been working on improving the usability and readability of the reports every year. But the last 12 months has seen an explosion in alternative technologies for presenting information to overcome fear of statistics, and has also seen a rapid increase in the use of data in everyday life. We've been chronicling some of that in this blog. This should be seen as a call to action to do more to connect information with people in meaningful and provocative ways so that data can transform communities.

Keep sending me your tips, news flashes, blog articles, project reports. Let's talk about them and what the next 12 months may bring us.


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