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Conrad Quilty-Harper talks about ‘data and visualisation tools’ for journalists at Kingston University

January 12, 2013

The week after Claire Miller gave her inspiring speech we had another speaker at our school (not quite a chock actually since we have a new speaker every Wednesday) called Conrad Quilty-Harper who is The Telegraph’s Interactive News Editor. He came to talk about data and visualisation tools.

Conrad Quilty-Harper

Conrad Quilty-Harper

What I snapped up mostly from this lecture was “how to” read maps that shows data information and that you could, with just one map, get dozens of stories.The issue though, that at least I thought about, with this is that it sounded like it could be a bit tricky to get the correct information every time. I like one example that Conrad mentioned during the lecture.

He said something like: “Let’s say you’re looking at data information showing a picture of a beach and you have diagrams and maps on the sides of the beach saying that vanilla ice cream is selling better than ever. You can also see that the number of shark attacks is higher than ever during the same period of time. Does that mean that the sale of vanilla ice creams and shark attacks are linked together and complement each other?”

Well I guess you don’t have to be a brain surgeon do figure that answer out – no. Even though this was an easy example of something not being connected together, I thought that there had to be something, sometimes, that is harder to figure out whether it has some kind of connection or not.

Imagine yourself looking at diagrams and maps, which show that crime went up just as BMW introduced a new car model for sale, and it has been the same for the last seven years. Does that mean that car thieves and criminals are more likely to strike when people have brand new expensive cars? Or is the crime linked to something totally different that you have missed?

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