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Facts are Sacred

“Comment is free,” wrote Guardian editor CP Scott in 1921, “but facts are sacred”. This truism kicks off the Guardian’s new e-book on data journalism. The short book, written by Simon Rogers and available for $3.99 at Amazon and iBooks, is a resource we’ve found extremely helpful in understanding data journalism; why it works and why it doesn’t. To a non-profit, data journalists are key to the process of getting your results out to the people who both want and need them. The more I understand how data journalism works and how data journalists think, the more effectively I can communicate the results of our work with non-profits.

For non-profits, two of the most important “10 things you will learn in this book” are: “looks can be everything” and “It’s (still) all about stories”. As I work with non-profit organizations to understand their data and to disseminate their results, these two ideas continue to play centre stage. Standing in the way of effectiveness and impact is the divide between the people who understand how to analyze complex data and those who want to understand what that data says. The more I distill from experience, the clearer I see the two things that can close that gap:

1. Good design. Use types of plots and charts that are charismatic and intuitive, not necessarily the most complex or technically correct. Pay more attention to colours. The psychology of learning shows us that this really matters. And don’t make stuff up.

2. Carefully considered communication style. If it’s a complex analysis, tell it as a story. A multilevel regression output is mind-numbing to most people. The same results illustrated through a scenario can draw people’s attention and understanding and actually change policy. A new piece of preliminary data, however, might work best as a simple percentage or number in a sentence. Form needs to follow function. After all, a good piece of statistical communication is often an affectional ordering of results.
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Finding a better way to measure a nation’s well-being

Gross domestic product is what is often used as a default indicator of a nation’s success. This is a reliable and standard measure of a certain type of proxy for a limited type of health. But what are the real implications for children in using this proxy? Lately, economists are working on developing something better. Justing Fox looks at the current progress in his blog.

Robert F. Kennedy made the point during his 1968 campaign;” When one moves beyond short-term ups and downs, though, things get more complicated. “Our gross national product…counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage, It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.…Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play.”

Fox's Blog Post: http://goo.gl/EU1W0
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Datassist

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Infographics: The Holy Grail? Tools & Resources:

A colleague recently told me about a conference call with staffers from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; for them, infographics were the current "holy grail" in evaluation. They don't just talk about it either, as the Foundation's site includes some very nice examples.

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/livingproofproject/Pages/infographics.aspx

Infographics can be highly effective additions to a non-profit organization's evaluation and research presentations. They can add warmth, tell a story, and communicate complex results intuitively. Moreover, not all infographics cost a lot of money to create. Here's a list of some of the best tools and resources on infographics available right now.

http://www.webadvantage.net/webadblog/30-really-useful-infographic-tools-resources-4453

However, be warned - not all infographics are helpful - poorly created ones can cause your organization to lose credibility. Proceed with care and test drive them on a couple of people who aren't familiar with your work to see what message your inforgraphics actually convey before going public.

http://www.marketingtechblog.com/bad-infographics/



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Making sense of your data.
Introduction
At Datassist, we’ll work as hard as you do to get results.  We are evaluators, researchers & statisticians for the non-profit world.  We specialize in helping non-profits and NGOs find the data they need, evaluate programs & analyze the data in a way that serves their mission, and effectively present the data to others.
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