- Think of an initial question.
- Try and answer it using as many falsifiable hypotheses as possible.
- Test those hypotheses through observation.
- Discard those that fail.
- Build on those that show promise by asking better and better questions.
- why the Internet of Things is changing everything
- how technology is disrupting capitalism
- why the sharing economy is booming
- what questions you should be asking to prepare for the future.
- How will you transition from industrial age technologies, like television and oil, to digital age technologies, like electric cars and renewables?
- How will you adapt your business model to take advantage of the Internet of Things? In a connected world, your opportunities are bigger than you realise. But so are your threats.
- Does your organisation understand the danger posed by zero-marginal cost? If relevant, are you investing in transitioning your business to an aggregator model?
- Have you invested in your social license to operate? Social media and greater environmental awareness means unethical or irresponsible behaviour can do permanent damage to a business.
- Have you thought about how to benefit from the growth of the sharing economy? Can you collaborate with likeminded partners to share opportunities and build social capital?
With a well-devised content strategy, a bot could gain some interesting insights without customers even knowing they were taking part in market research. In fact, this is where market research is already heading. Apple keeps voice data from Siri requests for two years and uses it to improve their products. Google tracks our locations, browsing history, YouTube viewing and emails to create advertising profiles and deliver us personalised content. With the progression of the Internet of Things, all aspects of our everyday lives are being documented, such as how many steps we’ve taken in a day, how many calories we’ve eaten, how many hours we’ve spent watching Netflix and even how many hours we’ve slept in a night. In years to come we may not have to conduct surveys at all. It will simply be a matter of buying data that’s already been collected. But in the meantime, remember no 2B pencils. Whatever format you choose to capture data, make it enjoyable, seamless and integrated into your customers’ digital lives.
The emergence of HTML5 has led to an explosion of new ways to tell stories online. Here are just six examples, though we could have given you sixty!
1. Paced learning
‘Where did everything come from? Where are we heading?’ These are two big questions that you can answer in approximately 50 minutes at bighistoryproject.com The content and UX of this site are awesome. It tells you exactly where you are in each chapter, allows you to control the speed at which you learn and enables you to explore the wonders of the universe in many different ways. I’m sure even Mr Spock would be mildly impressed!
2. Data visualisation
If you’re a corporate communicator, you’ve probably been passed a giant spreadsheet and asked to ‘make a story out of that lot’. I suspect this project, from the Economic Policy Institute, started in the same way. But check out the interesting ways they get you to interact and personalise this data. It’s both technically inspiring and thought provoking for all us who live in this ‘lucky country’.
We love the stark UX that a full screen image or video can bring. This Tumblr blog from NPR tells ‘Stories about how you see the world’ in a clean and at times hauntingly beautiful way. http://lookatthisstory.tumblr.com/tagged/stories/
4. Stacks and Sway
Microsoft is too big and powerful to get completely swept aside by all this innovation. They’ve responded with lots of new tools for basically taking PowerPoint online. Sway is their inhouse tool for producing interactive reports and presentations, and Stacker is a free software tool that has a similar idea. Both can be embedded into your existing website and are responsive and therefore mobile-friendly.
Check out http://newsbound.com/ for some great examples that won’t cost the earth to produce.
It’s easy to be mean about averages, but often the really interesting stories lie in your outliers, a data point that is distanced from the norm.
The Spotify Year In Music review is not interesting for telling us that lots of people listen to Taylor Swift. It’s the outliers, the unusual fun facts, that will stick with you. Like more people listening to Abba on New Years Day than any other band; or 30 May being the happiest day for music.
And finally, here’s a digital medium that has no pictures. It doesn’t need any code, has no interactivity and is basically mirroring one of the earliest forms of mass communication: radio.
Nevertheless, podcasts have had a massive upsurge in interest and innovation in the last couple of years, in large part because it’s the perfect format for commuters that need to keep their eyes on the road but their ears can be distracted. I listened to this RadioLab episode on my way in this morning, which has a great story and an even better tone of voice. You might also like Serial or Freakonomics Radio on your next commute.
If you like this content, then you will love our new ebook, ‘Data Fatigue and the future of datavis’. To pre-order you copy, email email@example.com
They’ve been called the language of the internet, visual essays or data visualisations, and they’re spreading rapidly.Thanks to information overload and the advent of digital and mobile technology, more and more readers these days ‘skim the surface’ rather than dive into narrative. Writers and designers are being challenged to cut down on unwieldy text and use their skills to tell visual stories that are easily and quickly understood. That’s why, in the age of big data, infographics have truly come of age. Writing and designing sustainability reports for Lion, one of Australasia’s leading food and beverage companies, gives us an opportunity to test our skills in this area. The reports are published as interactive pdfs on the company’s website and can be found at www.lionco.com. What lessons have we learned? 1. It’s a collaborative exercise: Strategic thinking is as important as good design, so an effective infographic (there are plenty of bad ones) is a result of close collaboration between writer and designer. 2. The numbers must tell a story: A good infographic requires you to create a clear vision of the story behind the numbers. All good stories are built on a firm angle or idea, not just a topic (for example, tax-effective investments is a topic, 10 ways to save tax on your investments is an angle). Infographics must make sense of the numbers so the story they share is easily understood. 3. Show, don’t tell: Writers are often told to use the ‘show don’t tell’ technique to enable readers to experience the story through actions rather than words. In infographics, the ‘actions’ become visual. In the drafting process we revisit every element to see whether we can’t further ‘visualise’ data. 4. Observe the principles of good design: Infographics must be aesthetically pleasing, so your choice of fonts, colours, size, graphical devices and spatial relationships is critical. 5. Clarity is key: It’s vital to edit the superfluous so you present the most compelling data – in the least amount of space. The reader must be able to look at it and instantly know what it’s about. Incidentally, Internet chatter and the self-styled specialists who have sprung up in recent times would have us believe that infographics are new. But they’ve been around for a long time. Indeed, as The Guardian newspaper’s Show and Tell infographic site points out, German physician Fritz Kahn’s extraordinary poster, visualising the human body as a vast network of machines and industrial processes, was published in Stuttgart in 1926. And The Table of Universal History, a visualised history of humankind from the creation of Adam and Eve to the then present day, goes back even further. It was published in Paris in 1858. – Derryn Heilbuth