Data Visualization and News

On: May 2, 2011
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About Magdalena Gocwin


In my last writing “Data Visualization and Political Election” I have portrayed the historical significance of data visualization analyzing political elections. Political elections has a huge historical significance which involves sociological context, cultural context or even economical context as Bernhard Rieder has pointed out in his presentation.  Nowadays the area of gathering the data has expanded from statistics to the polls, speeches, blogs and even social media. It seems like the public opinion is still finding the new ways for the distribution, as the scientists new ways of measuring it. Like Tarte has pointed out we live in the soon to become society where every social event would be automatically stored, analyzed and distributed. It seems like the social science is rushing to catch up with all the new technical developments of storing data, and as soon as a new measurement of measuring public opinion is invented as soon the new technological or sociological progress has been made and along with it a necessity for the new gathering data instrument.

How is with this entire chase television doing?

The main instrument of informing the audience, news, is trying to catch up with all the new developments in the social science area, welcoming maybe too hasty the new data sources like blogs putting bloggers along with the experts in the politics area, or using twitter as information source which can easily grow to enormous expands of an absurd.

Politicians are jumping rapidly into a opportunity of presenting themselves as a normal person next to a political figure which results mostly in confusion of the voters, and news are equally to blame here because they are exploring the social media source and presenting it as a valuable information source which Facebook or Twitter, for its uninformative and too casual appearance of its members, is not.


It is all blended into a monstrious mix of self constrained reasonable image of an expert in the field, which politicians are striving to convince the audience with, and a casual, next door neighbour and everybody’s friend image which politicians would like to preserve.

You might think that data visualization has taken a wrong turn in news, due to the obusive usage of its data base it has lost a scientific and believable significance. Nothing is further from the truth.

In the age computer revolution, data visualization has gained a whole new area for the exercise its development.

During political election time news networks are creating an opportunity for exploration of new visualization technics giving the area for innovation and creativity no one has seen before.

News networks has been using various data visualization software for years now, for instance in the weather forecast, presenting the forecast on the touch screen combining the various data into the presentation. During elections the same method is used in Electoral Maps, where the anchor is presenting the data in the interactive way bringing various of data and presentations altogether which results in a clear presentation with overflow covering multiple areas of the elections subject.

But nothing in data visualization progress could top measure up with what happened during the elections in 2008. In the coverage of 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections has CNN introduced a Virtz software into television which, in my opinion, has revolutionized the usage of data visualization in news broadcasting. Virtz, Visualization in Real Time, is a software company producing content visualizationn tools for media.

With a help of one of their invention,Vizrt Viz Virtual Studio software, CNN has introduced the first hologramic interview creating a milestone in television.

A person in hologram supposed to be shot in a green box, then captured by the camera and this footage proceeded with the software. The result is a live image of a person far away but talking live in a studio with an anchor. What this Star Trek sentiment invention has to do with politics, you might ask? Well, next elections, the Midterm Elections 2010 CNN has incorporated Virtz again in presenting polls, and election results which resulted in interactive and rapid presentation of the data keeping the viewers fasten to their seats and definitelly incapable of changing the channel to another news broadcast.

US news networks are not the only one trying to catch up with the new technology. In Dutch last Provincial States Elections public news network NOS used computer softwares too in order to present the election results.


The reasults were brought on the screen to the audience with a animation of the data. This way may seem though light years behind the development across the Atlantic. In that order Tarte’s prediction of the data visualization progress infiltrating the society would be, in  my opinion, a desirable motivation for data visualization progress in Holland.


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