Jun 1, 2010

FTC's Proposal for Public Data Online: Boon for Interactive Infoviz and Multimedia Journalism?

I glanced at Nat Torkington's "Four Short Links: 31 May 2010" today and saw the link to the following publication:

Federal Trade Commission Staff Discussion Draft:  Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism (pdf)  I'll pick up on this topic in an update, but until then, here are some thoughts. (Be sure to watch Henry Jenkin's video below about the "new media landscape" for a good overview of this topic.)

There has been a push for the government to publish public data on-line, and have it accessible to anyone who wants to explore it further.  Interactive dataviz/infoviz strategies might help further one of the causes behind journalism - bringing the truth to the masses, and doing so in a way that "informs and enlightens".  Who is going to pay for this?

At any rate, the cry for publishing government data is not new.  Dr. Robert Kosara, an assistant professor of computer science at UNC-Charlotte, outlined his ideas about what this might be like in a post written in early 2009: A National Data Agency.  He created a logo for this effort:

National Data Agency

One of Robert Kosara's related posts,  Visualization Sets Information Free, outlines how visualization tools can help us understand the numbers.  His post contains links to great information visualization resources that journalists, as well as anyone else interested in sniffing out and/or sharing truths, will appreciate. 

The infographic below is from Robert Kosara's blog post:
FlowerPoint - gapminder.org

The problem is that there a many competing viewpoints among groups of people on the matter of the future of journalism.   There are those who would like to hold on to the past for the sake of the smell of a newspaper and how it fits into a morning routine, those who would like to hold on to the past for the sake of great journalism (think of the investigative journalism carried out when many newspapers had the money to support this work), those who would like to see everything go digital while keeping the best features of the newspapers (think of reading the NY Times on your iPad or e-book),  and those who would like a laisse-faire free-for-all.   

In my opinion, multi-media journalism, incorporating interactive information visualization, is something that I fully support.  New Media. Transmedia. Covergence.  The best of all worlds. Etc.     This can't happen if we don't have access to ALL of the data that we need!

Henry Jenkins and Convergence Culture

"HCDMediaGroup  September 21, 2009 — Henry Jenkins, MIT Professor and author of "Convergence Culture" talks about the new media landscape. Highest Common Denominator Media Group"

Copy and Paste from Torkington's Four Short Links: 31 May 2010:
"Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism (PDF) -- FTC staff discussion document that floats a number of policy proposals around journalism: additional IP rights to defend against aggregators like Google News; protection of "hot news" facts; statutory limits to "fair use"; antitrust exemptions for cartel paywalls; and more. Jeff Jarvis hates it, but Alexander Howard found something to love in the proposal that the government "maximize the easy accessibility of government information" to help journalists find and investigate stories more easily. (via Jose Antonio Vargas)"

Need for Interactive Infoviz for the Finance Biz, Business Leaders, Government Officials, Educators, and the Rest of Us
This is a mega-post I wrote in February of 2009.  Good data and information visualization techniques, including interactive 3D simulations, might have been helpful to BP in looking at various scenarios during the planning and designing stages of the company's deep-sea drilling "adventure" in the Gulf of Mexico.

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