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Data Journalism

February 6, 2013
Using data to tell a story is something that more database professionals should consider.

Using data to tell a story is something that more database professionals should consider.

The open data movement in goverment has produced some amazing data analysis from many sources. Many people are taking freely available data sets and producing a visualization, or an analysis of a problem, or even an application that is useful to the public. It’s one of the ways that technology and data analysis has really changed the world in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before powerful computers and mobile devices.

I ran across a piece on data journalism that talks about a few projects around the world. This is the idea of adding a story, along with context and clarity, to facts. That is what many people are showing in the various projects in the O’Reilly piece, and it got me thinking. Perhaps this isn’t just something that can be done with open data and public services. Perhaps this is something we could be doing more of within all our organizations.

Journalists learn to inform people in a compelling way. Data journalism is based more around large sets of data. Most of the people I know working with SQL Server often understand the data much better than the business analysts. These technologists, usually those performing some type of development tasks, learn how the data is structured and stored, and might notice the patterns and anomalies in ways that business users ignore.

As the future of databases and database workers evolves, I suspect that those people who can learn to tell a compelling story about the data, that can present facts to clients and customers in a captivating manner will be in demand by many employers.

Steve Jones


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