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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Trying Out Widgenie

I decided to try out Widgenie, a new data visualization tool that allows you to create and share charts and graphs. Here's my first attempt:

Let me tell you my opinion of the site so far (realizing it's still in beta test):

First, I like the animation. I like the mouseover that lets you get the individual data points. I like that you can share the graph with others. It's stronger/sharper than just cutting-and-pasting Excel-generated images into your blog/presentation/Facebook account/iGoogle/website/etc. I also like how it tracks who's using your widget and who's viewing it. That could generate interesting data on its own.

Problems: The data conversion is a little rough. The 2002-03 date fields turned into March 1, 2003, at 5:00 AM dates. The percentages (not shown) were converted into decimals. I didn't have any way to edit/fix those. Be careful in how you format your information before uploading it. That's not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to be able to at least tell the widgenie that you're working with percentages and to display that properly.

The bigger issue, I think, is the metadata. I didn't see how to source the information I was uploading or displaying. I think that ought to be fixed, and I hope the developers will not just permit but insist that data be sourced. Otherwise, why bother creating portable, sharable graphs? I think the information could be put in the "description" slot, but that didn't strike me as intuitively the place for data source information.

I'm going to play around with the site a bit more, and encourage you to do the same and report back on what you like/don't like about the site.

Happy charting!


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