Wednesday, April 04, 2007


This mashup is clever in how it explains the rise and fall of real estate prices in the US. Numbers don't have to be boring, and in this case, it is hard not to stay for the entire run of the roller coaster as it wends it way from 1890 to the present. It is instructive as the coaster climbs and climbs then plunges back to a lower value only to climb again. I could envision the price of my home rising and falling proportionately with each dip and rise.

Such animated ways of explaining complex data could be used more frequently in the corporate environment. Perhaps a reason why they aren't is a combination of a lack of creativity and courage to do something different. Yes, it takes longer to understand the roller coaster than a glimpse at a static picture, but the experience is different and more meaningful with animation. Because of the web's flexibility, it would have been just as easy for the author of this animation to present the data in three ways -- tabular, static graph and animation -- so readers could look at data in a way they prefer to experience it.

Too often on web sites, especially corporate web sites, data is dumped onto the page, sometimes with a thought to the reader, but just as often, without consideration for those who are going to use it. As PR practitioners, presentation is a skill we bring to organizations we represent. We should be in the forefront representing the public that uses our organizations' web sites and pushing for better presentation. Regrettably, in too many organizations, PR has no say or control over what is done on the web, and it is our fault this happened. PR ignored the web early on and resisted learning about it until it was established as a separate entity within most organizations. Today, we are in catchup mode, and it is difficult to work our way into a well established technology.


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