Visualization Journalism is focused on developing an interface and graphical metalanguage for massive multimodal news datasets. Such datasets are increasingly available, but for copyright reasons, they cannot be made entirely open to the public. The project seeks to offer an abstracted and legal representation of news data, to enable comparative, cooperative and computer-supported analysis of trends across news events and networks. Combining quantitative methods from computational linguistics with opportunities for qualitative analysis, the project will help pundits and publics deliberate the structural characteristics that shape emergent news "narratives" and "points of view" on topics of broad social import. Existing platforms (i.e. InArticle, NewsMap, Archive.org) have only begun to demonstrate the potential for alternative forms of criticism that can handle the increased scale-and constraints-of news access. Our project makes use of UCLA's NewsScape, a growing collection of video for more than 300,000 broadcast news programs, extending back to Watergate.
The Local Data Design Lab is focused on bridging the substantial divide between two complimentary, but largely disconnected areas of work: data studies and data visualization. The first is an area of scholarly inquiry that has emerged recently in response to the phenomenon of Big Data and seeks to make sense of data from a social perspective. The second is a form of design practice, which produces informative and expressive interfaces to data. It is influenced by, but more publicly oriented than the sub-field of computer science called information visualization. The goal of this crossover research is to develop new models of visualization that inform and engage, but also prompt reflection on the nature of data and the work that they do. Our projects take on a variety of interrelated forms:
- Empirical data studies that can inform practice in data visualization
- Data visualizations that support or embody our studies of data
- Hands-on workshops that enable others to engage critically with data
Beyond its impact in scholarship and practice, the research of the Local Data Design Lab has the potential to improve data literacy in the public realm and is rapidly finding purchase in education, journalism, advocacy and planning-all of which struggle to keep people informed in the face of Big Data.