Data Journalism Awards – whodunits in Spain, business in Brazil and bus subsidies in Argentina

Three solid entries from Spain, Brazil and Argentina are among the 58 nominees featured in the first-ever international competition for data journalism, the Data Journalism awards. The awards, announced by the Global Editors Network, will be announced on May 31. In the meantime, keep your eye on these three nominees:

La trama de la SGAE,” from El Mundo’s Spanish designer David Alameda, covers last year’s “Operation Saga,” an undercover investigation of fraudulent financial activities conducted by the president and other members of Spain’s influential Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE). This piece boils down the complex network of who gave money to whom, how much and when into one of the best examples of interactive flowcharts that I’ve seen. As with the best data visualizations, this interactive avoids the many common mis-steps that could have occurred through the overuse of photos, text, talking heads, etc. Instead, Alameda keeps his focus–and ours–on a tightly scripted interactive that guides the user quickly and efficiently through the web of financial whodunits.

La trama de la SGAE interactive

2011 Brazil State-Level Business Environment Ranking ranks the country’s business environment along eight categories (ranging from the political climate to innovation) and a series of indicators specific to each category. The interface is clean and simple to understand. Navigation, categories and indicators are well-prioritized and intuitive. One of my favorite features is the linked rollover behaviour between all four elements on the screen: a regional map, a deeper state-specific map, a regional bar graph and an overall scoring graph. A lot of information packed into a clean, well-designed interactive.

Brazil State-level business environment ranking

Lastly, Argentina’s La Nación is doing great stuff with open data. By my calculations, given that the country ranks sixth of 12 South American countries (and 92nd out of 142 economies globally, according to the recent Global Information and Technology Report’s Networked Readiness Index), this is a telling example of how Argentina’s relatively advanced use of information and communication technologies seem to be paying off, even if its government doesn’t always play along.

La Nación’s Subsidies for the Bus Transportation System is not so much a data visualization as a series of efforts to use open data to report on how bus subsidies in Argentina are being conducted. Dig a little and you’ll find a few good infographicsinvestigative pieces that detail a government’s efforts to be less than transparent about dollar figures, and an encouraging collaboration between the newspaper and Junar’s open data platform to create a Tableau dashboard that is beginning to circumvent Argentina’s lack of open data infrastructure. Interestingly, the newspaper compares its early efforts to the U.S.’s Freedom of Information Act laws and the American government’s data.gov platform. The dashboard presents a snapshot of indicators key to Argentina  (ranging from crime and accident rates to political indicators and legislative data). It’s a promising approach that may help other countries (like Bolivia) with similar challenges (see related article on Bolivia’s recent technology rankings).

La Nación open data dashboard

 

 

Etymologically speaking: a world interactive map

This interactive world map, created by Spanish data journalist and developer Chiqui Esteban, is fun, beautiful and informative even if etymology is not your bent. I’m going to spend way, way too much time on this map. Roll your cursor over the map to see a customizable, magnified view of each country’s name, and it’s English translation, ranging from Equalizer, to Chief Smith, to Land of the Enjoyers of Beautiful Things. I’ll let you figure out which those are, and ponder the sad irony of good intentions gone wrong, in many instances.

The World in Plain English - Interactive Map

 

Bicycling in tranquility: Madrid map

There’s a certain beauty to be seen, and heard, when you stubbornly translate Spanish into English. By stubborn, I mean not how you *know* a phrase should translate (meaning, you are aware of the original author’s intent and honor it accordingly). But rather, how you *insist* on translating a phrase, mostly because a direct and literal translation of your native tongue somehow feels more loyal, more true, and sounds better, if not as accurate. For those of us who visualize information, this sounds like a familiar dilemma, and one I’ve written about before. To be right, or to be accurate? In this case, to be beautiful, or to be true?

I’ve chosen to translate this simple bicycling map as “Tranquil Streets for Bicycling Through Madrid.” It’s perplexing, but not disconcerting, that the map is designed in black, like a constellation map. Kind of adds to the beauty, in my opinion.

It takes a few minutes for the map to download. Take your time, wait it out, and imagine yourself rolling along, bicycling in tranquility. Enjoy.

Bicycling in tranquility