Founder Catherine Mulbrandon seeks to expand her VisualizingEconomics.com’s website and create Illustrated Guides that contain infographic explainers using economic data that help journalists, teachers, students, financial bloggers and citizens understand economic numbers and policy. The NMWE award supplements $14,000 raised on Kickstarter.
Visualizing Economics, the New Media Grant recipient headed by Catherine Mulbrandon, released a comprehensive two year project January 2013. “An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States” makes the most “micro” of economics clear to readers through charts, graphs, inforgraphics, and glosseries of economic terms. Check it out!
I have shut down my old site and fixed the issues with the new Squarespace site. Not that the site is done but I now have a foundation to build on with all of my old pages/post moved over. Adding new projects pages, interactive galleries or even another blog is a pretty straight forward process and now that they are opening Squarespace 6 up to the developer community I expect to see more features and templates to integrate in to my site. The switch also saves me nearly 90% on the cost of hosting my blog while still keeping my site reliable regardless of how big or how much bandwidth I need.
As for the Guide, I am planning to work with a private label publishing firm (Worthy Shorts) to not only print the copies I need but also create and sell an e-book version via Apple iBookstore and/or Amazon. ...
This month I have been proofing the Income Guide and gathering feedback from everyone. And since I will be delivering a T-shirt to my Kickstarter backers, I have created a design and found a interesting service online called CustomInk.com to print them at a discount and still get different sizes and color, which gives me the maximum flexibility. I have not designed a T-shirt before but I am having fun figuring out how to place a infographic on a piece of clothing.
Also, I am working on my new website which entails learning the ins and outs of Squarespace while converting my old blog from Wordpress. The new site needs to support multiple uses: a place for me to share old projects (portfolio), offer items for sale (posters, books, t-shirts) or let people donate, a blog for me to share what I am working on now and a section to explain ...
There were many small steps forward with one step back this month. With this project, I have also taken on the role of designer as author, which means the design of the physical presentation is in my hands as well as the content that goes into it. So, I am working on the parts of the Illustrated Guide to Income that help place the data graphics in context, i.e. the cover, table of contents, bibliography, and finally the commentary.
I have tried to write the commentary several times but keep stopping as I struggled to find the right voice. While I never intended to write essays for this project, I was certain that I needed to “talk” to the reader as they browsed though the Guide about what I found interesting. I also thought I needed to provide definitions and background information that would work like guide posts helping people from ...
I have finally added my last remaining topics to the Income Guide, including unemployment, demographic data, share of GDP for major industry sectors, and, most importantly, maps showing the geography of income in the United States. In each case, I needed to reach out to others to help me complete the pages or else perform additional research, which is why these topics took the longest. While I didn’t want to start any new pages this late in the project, I am glad I got them in since they were on my list of topics I felt I needed to cover.
I am finalizing the data graphics for my book, An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States. The geography and the demographic sections still need new graphics but the rest of the pages just require edits. I still need to write the explore text to help connect the dots between each infographic. In many ways this is the hardest part because my work in the past has always been one-off infographics that I post to my blog.
In a book, you have the freedom to explore a subject in more depth but it is harder to juggle all of the ideas and information while also making the connections clear to your reader. It’s not unlike the difference between writing an article and writing a book.
This month I focused on selling posters; creating new infographics for the Income Guide and looking for a replacement for my current WordPress blog.
So far I have sold 12 posters, a few orders still come in each week even a month after the initial launch of the online store. I printed a 100 posters but I hoped to sell at least 50 before September (then perhaps a back-to-school sale if my inventory is still high). It looks like CPAs and financial advisors are the main customers right now which makes sense given the poster is about tax rates. The longer-term question is how to market to them beyond my blog and Google Ads?
I returned from SxSW on the 13th, tired but glad I had a chance to see this conference for myself after hearing about it for so many years. It is so large that it would more accurately be called several conferences in one. I spent most of my time in the Journalism and Online Content tract where I got to listen to a panel with David Carr and others talk about curation, and another panel about funding news startups and discussions about how to hire data visualization designer and programmers (Answer: you must go to them because they don’t see themselves as “journalists” – something I can relate to). I attended a 2-hour “unconference” about data-driven journalism at the Texas Tribune where I met people interested in building data tools that support data sharing and discussed best practices. I finally made it to a data-visualization panel in the Convention Center ...
While I am making a final sprint to finish the Income Guide, I wanted to try a beta test to see how difficult it would be to print copies of my data graphics and sell my work though my website. In the past I have tried Cafepress for printing and selling the large posters that I created for my Master Thesis but with very little success. These were large 2′ x 3′ posters and the digital print-on-demand was not a high quality. This time I will be selling a popular graph on Tax Rates that I recently updated for 2011. This tax graph is topical and has been reposted by many blogs and has been requested by financial advisors. It will be a small tabloid-sized poster on high quality paper but with digital printing so I can do short runs (i.e. 50 copies at a time).
Even with the holidays and travel I was able to give two presentations in December. The first was at a design lecture given each month in Brooklyn, NY, called Creative Mornings. I have attended this lecture series many times but this was my first time as a presenter. I was able to show to an audience of designers and developers the income-inequality graphics I presented at the Big Picture conference in October. The feedback was both positive and curious about what the data means. As I put the collection together it is clear that biggest hurdle in front of me is linking the graphics together to help people see the connections between them.
imageFounder Catherine Mulbrandon seeks to expand her VisualizingEconomics.com’s website and create Illustrated Guides that contain infographic explainers using economic data that help journalists, teachers, students, financial bloggers and citizens understand economic numbers and policy. The NMWE award supplements $14,000 raised on Kickstarter.
When I was an undergraduate in Economics I didn’t received a lot (if any) introduction to historical data covering stock returns, interest rates, inflation much less the income, industry and occupation data that I am researching for my “Illustrated Guide to Income.” I suspect that hasn’t changed for today’s students.
While journalists will write articles about unemployment based on a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless the reader is very familiar with the statistics and what they measure, these numbers are out of context and not very meaningful. News organizations like the New York Times experiment with data graphics, but there is data at government web sites and in academic papers that is not tied to current events so doesn’t get covered by the news. And the need for more and better data visualizations exists with lots of room for experimentation.
I consider my web site Visualizing Economics ...
As I get closer to finishing my Illustrated Guide to Income, I am focusing more on the marketing and publicizing side of the business. This includes giving a presentation a few weeks ago to the financial community here in New York at The Big Picture conference. I was first on the schedule which meant I could relax during the rest of the conference. Also I had a chance to show my work and get feedback at the breaks from people who had not see it before.
In addition, I applied for and received a SxSW 2012 Scholarship which was created “to recognize individuals from all sectors and from anywhere in the world who are using new media to push the boundaries of tackling community problems.” With a ticket to SxSW conference in Austin, TX next March, I hope to meet other people in the startup community tackling issues in the areas ...
Work on my Illustrated Guide to Income is continuing. As of today I have more than 35 pages completed. Though it sometimes feels like I am just running in place, it helps to take a look at my progress each week to remind myself how much I have accomplished.
Also, I am experimenting with Google Docs as a way to publish my underlining data set online inspired by the work of DataBlog at the Guardian (@datastore) and the Texas Tribune (@TribData). These are two news organizations who have done some great work in the area of data journalism.
I would like to first thank the J-Lab and the judges for selecting me for a New Media Women Entrepreneurs grant. I am delighted to be chosen since it will allow me to continue my work on VisualizingEconomics.com over the next year as I experiment with new ways of delivering economic data visualizations to a broader audience.
I am currently working on the first of my illustrated guides about income in the United States. This will be a comprehensive overview of the subject using data placed in historical context (an “infographic explainer”). With this guide funded by my Kickstarter project, I will be using my NMWE grant to start additional guides while building out my website to provide access to these new infographics and the data I used in creating them, including background information about how they are made.