Three easy data visualization tools for journalists

byMaite Fernandez
Jul 14, 2011 in Digital Journalism

A good data visualization tool can really make your story stand out and take it to the next level.

The best part: you don’t have to be a computer expert to use some of the amazing free tools available online.

Here are three free picks that will make you and your story look better (and, let’s face it, cooler).

ManyEyes

Created by IBM, ManyEyes was designed “to allow the entire Internet community to upload data, visualize it and talk about their discoveries with other people.”

With this tool you can create a word cloud, a traditional bar chart, a network diagram or a map.

To get started, you need to set up an account, upload a data set or use an existing one, customize it and then publish it. You can embed the final result as static image or as a live, interactive visualization.

Vuvox

A bit more sophisticated, Vuvox allows you to create interactive presentations integrating text, photos, video and audio. You can choose between three options: express, collage and studio.

Express is the easiest one and allows you to create a web album in three steps by collecting your media, importing content from Picasa or Flickr accounts, choosing a style and publishing your presentation.

Collage is the coolest one but also more complex, allowing you to add different media and giving you more control over the final presentation. (Studio seems somewhere in between, but some of its features are not ready to use yet.)

Some nice examples of presentations made using Vuvox include Saving Donna’s brain, created by The Capital Times in Madison, and Psychedelic Robot Ride.

 

 

Dipity

Dipity allows you to create interactive timelines using photos, video and text.

To use it you have to first create a timeline, give it a name and description, chose a theme and add events to it. You can add photos, videos, text and links to the event and after that is pretty much ready to publish.

Users can drag the timeline back and forth, zoom in and out and expand or minimize the content.

A personal free account allows you to create three timelines a month and add up to 150 events. You can upgrade the account for a monthly fee if you need to create more timelines or to support higher pageviews.

One cool recent example is a timeline about the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest country.