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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, October 10, 2008

Data Visualization = Storytelling

We've been talking about the link between data visualization and storytelling for some time here (see especially here, here, here, and here.) A year ago, we said, "Because, after all, the point of community indicators projects isn't just to collect stacks of relevant data. It's to get that data to tell a story to spark community change." Now along comes someone else who makes many of the same points but much, much better.

For all of us who work with community indicators, this article is a Must Read. It's from Nathan Yau, and can be found at in a piece called Great Data Visualization Tells a Great Story.

Here's a teaser:

Approach data visualization as if you were telling a story. What kind story are you trying to tell? Is it a report or is it a novel? Do you want to convince people that something is necessary? Think character development. Every data point has a story behind it the same way that every character in a book has a past, present, and future. There are interactions and relationships between those data points. It's up to you to find them.

I'd love to hear your comments on the article. What does this mean for your community indicators project? How will you approach your efforts differently -- in report layout, in how you communicate the results to community? What are your thoughts?


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