One of my biggest takeaways from the excellent #i2c2 conference in Manchester last month was the fact (yes – fact), that we librarians are pretty damn appalling at visualising the data in our possession. This was occurring to me as keynote speaker Brendan Dawes showed us his chart of James Bond kills (for which I was sad enough to identify both The Man with the Golden Gun and Goldeneye as featuring the least and most number of Bond kills respectively, without being able to read the legends from my seat! Ladies and Gentlemen – I thank you).
Although here at Judge we’re getting much better at employing better, bolder and bigger, images on our plasma screens, in our teaching presentations, and our website, when it comes to what I do with our data in my student survey results and annual reports, the situation is frankly embarrassing. Up until now its been Excel-generated bar charts or Qualtrics-generated pie charts all the way. Who gets excited about a pie chart, even an exploded one?
Back in 2012 I experimented by presenting our student survey results as a prezi but with the best will in the world it was the wrong medium and more importantly the wrong way of presenting the data – far too much of it for one thing. A shiny rosette goes to anyone who managed to swerve through this prezi from start to finish without wanting a good lie down afterwards. You can go looking for this prezi if you really want but I’m not going to provide a link here as I think too much of you dearest blog reader.
What I think makes my indolence on this data visualisation score even more unforgivable, is the fact there are now heaps and heaps of infographic tools out there for us to use to make our data look pretty and engaging. And furthermore our users have been asking for recommendations and assistance with such packages for some time now, so actually evaluating and using them would kill two birds with one stone. The data I wanted to visualise btw, or infograph if you will (You won’t? Tough) was from our 2014 student survey.
After a bit of research and testing I decided to go with Piktochart which comes, like all this infographic software, in Free and Pro varieties. Now Piktochart is not without its limitations and anyone who can speak Photoshop fluently would probably feel hugely constrained and irritated but I found it pretty intuitive and simple to use. In fact I liked it so much I bought the company. I didn’t.
Anyway, the end results of my labours, which will shortly adorn every plasma screen and webpage in a mile radius of my office, is here on Piktochart or click on the image. Now I know its a bit basic and by no means perfect but for around 2.5 days work I think it a worthwhile effort and its an important first step along the road to visualising our library data more.
Right, I’m off to kill a few non-speaking, but heavily-armed, extras.