Tuesday, May 3, 2011

cool real time data capture and display

Today's NYT online features an interesting interactive visual on the primary US news topic of the moment - the death of Osama Bin Laden. The Times poses two questions: How much of a turning point in the war on terror will Bin Laden's death represent? and What is your emotional response?

Readers can indicate how they feel about these questions along a scale ranging from insignificant to significant (y-axis) and from negative to positive (x-axis). In addition to picking a position, the audience can input comments, which pop up on the visual as new content is added.

I love that this doesn't pick a position, but instead lets users generate the content. At the time of my blogpost, the upper right quadrant (positive, significant) is the most densely populated (and I imagine this will continue to be the case). A quick read through some of the comments (possible by mousing over the cells) shows what is often true: the outliers are as interesting (in some cases more so) as the predominant trend.

What other ways could we use interactive real time visuals like this? Leave a comment with your thoughts.


  1. I actually find the vertical axis really frustrating. A "turning point" can be positive or negative. Responses at the top of the scale could represent feelings that the 'war on terror' will draw to a close, or that we will enter a more dangerous period.

    I think it is a very clever way of organizing qualitative data.

  2. It is definitely an engaging interactive way to mix quantitative and qualitative information.

    My only criticism is with the axis labels. When a label is along the left side of a graph, I expect that to be the label for the vertical axis. But, in this graph, that is the label for the horizontal axis.