May 9, 2011, 10:40 pm
By Henry Woodbury
Columbia Journalism Review writes about one of The New York Times recent features:
…a new interactive graph on The New York Times website invites readers to plot their reactions to two questions: How much of a turning point in the war on terror will Bin Laden’s death represent? (significant to insignificant), and What is your emotional response? (positive to negative).
The format is useful for commenters because they can easily click a square and answer two questions at once, and it’s useful for the casual reader, who can measure the feelings of the crowd at a glance. When you first visit the page, you can click on any square to see others’ comments or to plot your own—or, you can just watch for a few minutes, as I did, as random comments slowly float up and fade out from the mosaic.
To me the format is far more interesting than the opinions. The format shapes the aggregate results.
Given quadrants, there is bias toward adhering to a quadrant.
Given edges there is bias toward approaching the edges.
Given existing dots, I strongly suspect there is bias toward clumping.
Now that I’ve looked at this interactive a few times the other thing that interests me is how it would look as an animation. The Columbia Journalism Review article offers a screen shot taken much earlier than the one above. The patterns are already taking shape.