Data & Design Basics

Data & Design Basics

Four years ago we started working with visualisations of evidence in advocacy. Each of our journeys in this field has led us to more questions than answers at times. Yet we are more excited than ever about what can be done with data and design to create social change. We thought it was time to look at what we know, and what we still don't know. And then turn it inside out.

The Data & Design Basics Notes will do just that. Published every few weeks on this site, they'll be full of observations and advice on data and design in activism. We'll try to show its inner workings, covering topics like how to get data, how to organise it, how to tell stories with data. We'll also look at the security and ethics of working with data, along with publishing how-to's about choosing media formats, visual styles and aesthetics.

Read more about our story with data.

100s of photographs of Indian women's clothing on hangers...Text messages recording street based violence...A collection of plastic objects dug out from the carcass of an albatross chick...  ... all have something in common.They are all types of evidence that have become the basis of unusual and arresting visual advocacy campaigns. Evidence is threaded through the life of many...
Introduction ... if you're interested in an industrial plant and you think that there are environmental crimes being committed there, you're going to have a very hard time turning up at the front door and knocking on the plant door and seeing if they'll let you come in and tell you whatever crimes they are doing. But what you can do is assume that if they're dealing with toxic...
Introduction Data seems more abundant these days. Governments and international institutions are publishing more and a growing collection of initiatives around the world are making it more useful to citizens. These projects are helping realise the goals of many activists,  such as demystifying how tax money is spent, seeing how elected representatives vote in parliament, how development aid...
  Have a quick look through the gallery above. It shows nine different ways of presenting evidence about the same issue: plastic waste in the ocean. Click on any image to see a larger version of it along with details about who made it. Why visualisation is useful Visualisation can be used to help understand and communicate about any issue. In this Data and Design How-to...
       Amnesty International Sweden - 'Rose'.Created by Volontaire, Sweden. Source.    "Razor" by Aktion Mensch, Germany. Look at the image on the left; click on it to see a larger version you can scrutinise more closely. What do you see, and what sort of effect does it have on you? We suspect it creates a range of reactions as you start...
The Trouble With Metrics Reports. Email Marketing Reports, 2005. Beyond the 60-page report Once you've got people’s attention and helped them get the idea, what's next? As advocates and researchers, our tendency is to want to tell the whole story and show all the work we've done. In some cases, publishing everything we know may be necessary, or be the fairest way to represent a...
Needles and haystacks and such. Jennifer Hagy. Source 1. Introduction The perfect advocacy campaign gives all audiences the information they need to act, in the right amounts, at the right time. In Get the Idea and Get the Picture, we've looked at two strategies for doing this. By using strong imagery built from small packets of evidence, we can draw people in, expose them to our issue...