A Pixel is Worth a Thousand Words

"Which fish", David McCandless, informationisbeautiful.net

“Which fish”, David McCandless, informationisbeautiful.net

How can decisions be made about which fish are okay to eat, or whether to eat them at all? The problem is complex, and covers multiple issues: overfishing, accidental catch of marine animals such as dolphins and turtles, the welfare of fish in farming, the scraping of coral reefs by ocean trawlers, build-up of toxins and other issues. The information that can be gathered in these different areas is vast.

This information is also discoverable, by anyone. If it could be brought together and visualised to tell a story, would that make decision-making around responsible, sustainable fish consumption easier?

This question enters the realm of open data, a name given to information that anyone can discover and use in whichever way is best, without restriction: for business, creativity, communication or any other purpose. David McCandless has been exploring the use of visualisation in open data to tell compelling stories with information. He says in his TED talk, that “data is the new soil…a fertile, creative medium,” and believes this practice can greatly enhance our human ability to understand and benefit from sharing information. Data stories can be used to present information in context, thereby creating new perspectives and changing minds about key issues.

One of McCandless’ projects explores the question “Which Fish are Okay to Eat?”. A web-based visualisation of the different issues around fish consumption, fish icons can be sorted by issues of interest such as toxicity or animal welfare, making it a highly effective personal decision making tool.

Of course in order to tell your own stories with open data, you need the knowledge of how to mine it, as well as a computer, and internet access. Happily all three can be found at the State Library of Queensland. This Thursday 20 July, open data experts from Open Data Institute of Queensland (ODIQ), will be discussing the art of creating stories with data from 12pm-1pm in the Digital Futures Lab. The third in ODIQ’s introductory series, this session will cover where to find data and how to organise, clean and tell a story with it. To book your place for this free event, click here.

State Library of Queensland supports open access to information and ideas as a key enabler for a strong, well-informed and innovative society. Check out our Open Data Strategy here.

Anne Pensalfini

Project Support Officer, Signature Program

More information

Australian government data.gov.au – Organisations – State Library of Queensland: http://data.gov.au/organization/slq

Open Data Institute Queensland: http://queensland.theodi.org/

TED talk – The beauty of data visualization / David McCandless: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization

“Which Fish are Okay to Eat?” http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/which-fish/

Digital Futures Lunchtime Talks: Finding Stories in Data (part III): https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/digital-futures-lunchtime-talks-finding-stories-in-data-part-iii-tickets-34225515438

State Library of Queensland Open Data strategy: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/about-us/corporate/open-data