Friday, May 05, 2006

Storytelling with Stock Charts

With all the talk about stock listings in newspapers recently, I'm surprised I haven't seen more talk about what Google's done with their stocks. I must confess, I'm in the throes of a big crush on Google Finance.

I've always thought of stock charts as powerful instant stories -- clear, stark depictions of our fortunes rising and falling over time. I like our Financial Content stock charts very much. They're clean, pretty, straightforward, and packed with information. I wish the charts also graphed the volume of trading alongside the price, but that's a quibble.

But the storytelling award in this department has to go to Google. Check out a chart on Google Finance. Run your mouse over it, to see the exact fluctuations in price and volume from day to day. Use the upper map to zoom in and out, and watch how the story changes as the scope of time contracts and expands. Play the story backwards by dragging the chart to the left.

And my favorite part: click on one of the letters hovering atop the map to see the corresponding news story. There's still a role for writing and analysis here, but that role becomes much more powerful and resonant when it's connected with three miniscule bits of data -- price, volume and time -- in a beautifully-designed interface.

2 comments:

  1. In your opinion, Matt, would it be practical/worthwhile for us to duplicate this kind of effort for use on our sites?

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  2. This kind of effort, yes. This effort specifically? No. I do think it would be worth trying to cultivate the sort of technological resources in-house that would let us reverse-engineer something like this. But the technology isn't the big draw. Draggable Flash stock chart? Meh, not a big deal.

    The biggest innovation here seems to me to be in reimagining the story form of the stock chart. Someone at Google said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we mashed up this XML feed of stock prices and volume of trading over time with this feed of related news stories?" Having the technical resources to follow through on that thought is step 2, but having the thought itself is the primary value, I think.

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