A few interesting data projects

The contagious data bug must be sweeping through the office, as several very different but very interesting data-driven publishing projects rolled out almost simultaneously.

First, infographics editor Paddy Allen explains the global recession through a very elegant interactive piece “Where did all the money go?“. Paddy has quite a collection of brilliant work from his interactive infographics such as the Energy-hungry houses piece to his storytelling through interactive visualization like the map of Heathrow’s planned 3rd runway.

Second, a strong team led by editor David Leigh has begun posting their investigations into “The tax gap,” a study of tax avoidance by big business.

“It has taken a team of specialists more than three months and involved checking scores of trademark registers and sets of company accounts in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland.”

One of the many ouputs of the investigation is the raw data that is informing some of the work, such as the interactive guide to corporate tax. For example, you can see what British Airways has reported paying compared with what is notionally due against their stated profits. The information is available in XML format, such as this year-by-year feed.


Third, and this is my personal favorite, the Football guys have outdone themselves with a new feature called Chalkboards. The Guardian’s head of sport Ben Clissett explains:

“No football debate will ever be the same again – it’s not about opinion any more, it’s about facts. And our chalkboards give you the ammunition to settle the argument. You can also compare two players side by side – if you want to compare Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard in the same position for Liverpool, or Michael Essien and Mikel John Obi for Chelsea.

And when you have built your chalkboard, you can save it and start a discussion with your mates simply by pressing the save button and explaining your point. You can also embed images you have created on your blog, and use the tool with social networking sites.”

For example, I can see clearly for myself that Aston Villa’s draw against Wigan on Saturday was not due to a lack of offense. They had 16 attempts on goal, in fact, 4 on target and 3 shots blocked. The level of detail is amazing. I can also see where the teams focused their passing during the game.

 by Guardian Chalkboards

This is the kind of data that typically only team owners and managers have access to. And even though the super fans can keep much of this in their heads, they can’t watch every game.

Now, perhaps the best part of this is the embeddable Chalkboard image. Since much of the Premier League discussion is happening in places all over the Internet, it makes sense to share the Chalkboards that both editors and users are creating both on and off guardian.co.uk.

Simple but very clever.

I love that each of these is so different. But there can be no doubt that data is starting to drive a lot of very creative approaches to the journalism process.