Sunday, April 27, 2008

In a world of information abundance

Matt Thompson was one of the first people I know who talked about the evolution of journalism as it seeks to shift between dealing with information scarcity and information abundance. In his potent analogy, "The press earned its stripes covering a scandal [Watergate] about which information was scarce. The press lost its stripes covering a scandal [Enron] about which information was plentiful. The plenitude of information, not its scarcity, defines the world we live in now. And journalism must change to accommodate that fact."

We're all far more engaged now in information architecture, data-mining and visualization than when Matt wrote that in June 2006. Simply constructing and posting searchable databases is a basic step; more layered and textured graphical presentations – like some of those the Charlotte Observer used to help explain its ground-breaking discoveries of home-lending abuses – show us the next step.

There are many steps yet to go. We've got to become increasing sophisticated and adept at uncovering data-rich news (Matt's main point) and presenting it in ways our increasingly demanding audiences require.

This evolving art is widely demonstrated and examined in many places. There's a good starting point here, where numerous data-visualization blogs are linked.

I'm particularly fond of this splendid technique regularly employed nowadays at the New York Times:

1 comment:

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