Telling a Story: Turning Numbers Into Information and Knowledge Jon Hall, PARIS21
People’s Knowledge of Official Measures of Economic Performance What U.S. Consumers Know About Economic ConditionRichard Curtin Research Professor and Director Survey of Consumers - University of Michigan
Statistics are often perceived as Boring Not relevant to people’s lives
PUBLIC DATA DISSEMINATION SCENARIO AUDIENCE Public, Policymakers, Students MEDIA Internet, CD, Books, TV, Newspapers, Presentations INTERPRETERS Journalists, Activists, Researchers, Teachers DATA National Statistical System Source: Gapminder
BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE...BECAUSE... AUDIENCE BORING MEDIA DIFFICULT INTERPRETERS EXPENSIVE DATA National Statistical System Source: Gapminder
57445 79 1127687 8 23477 779 6,3 8 562006=10135,4 9 45 + 7 12% 57445 79 1128 347 779 6,3 8 562006=10135,4 9 45 + 7 12% Tabulation Statistics Methods/calculations Data entry & editing Data Data collection/surveys/adm. registers (Master plan/strategy/MDGs/PRSPs, etc.) NSOs = Numerical Volcanoes?
User-friendly presentation Tabulation Methods/calculations Data entry & editing Data collection/surveys/adm. registers (Master plan/strategy/MDGs/PRSPs/etc.)
Find the story • Tell the story • Spread the story
Find the interesting stories • Don’t be afraid to make statistics interesting – they are! • But how to find the interesting story?
Requires analysis… • In a complex society, readers need to be guided through the numerical jungle: “What do the numbers really mean”? • Informed users and the general public need explanations, interpretation and comment
Analysis also • Forces us to look closer at the data: concepts, definitions, measurements, sampling, etc. • … and provides feedback into the statistical production process, increasing the quality of statistics, by uncovering errors and mistakes
Analysis means … • Selecting among all the possible numbers • What is… • Important? • Interesting? • New…? • Making the figures comparable • And comparing: pointing out differences, trends and tendencies • Over time • Between groups
Finding the Story • Pick an indicator and ask …. • What is the level and the rate of change for the nation? • How do different subgroups/regions etc differ? • What is driving the change? • How much change affect other aspects of life? • How does this compare with other countries?
Telling the Story • Short Simple Communication – Use Plain Language
General motto: KISS! • Keep It Short and Simple! • This applies to: • Tables • Graphs • Titles • Text
General motto: KISS! • User-friendly presentation • of statistics • Guide to creating a dissemination strategy and dissemination • guidelines for developing and transition countries • On www.paris21.org
From: 2004 Census, Qatar User-friendly?
From: Statistical Indicators 1923-2004, Turkstat User-friendly?
General motto: KISS! • Men & Women not Males & Females • People not Persons
General motto: KISS! • A female born in 2010 has a life expectancy at birth of 77.3 years • Or • In 2010 a baby girl can expect to live to be more than 77.
Telling The Story • Use new ICT tools and other techniques
Telling The Story Ask 4 questions: • What do we have/use traditionally to present our statistical data? • Are all these options effectively helping us to reach our different audiences? • What are the new possibilities in this area? • Are they better suited for our targets and will they help improve communication on statistics?
Gapmider Factbook on Gapminder
Web 2.0 – Information Explosion • Search engines • Government and NGO websites • Communication tools • youtube for video, • Interactive documents • Discussion forums on data • Many eyes, swivel • Wikis • Mash-ups • E.g. google maps plus data on [war, water, mobility…] from 3G phones • Information and misinformation explosion
NSI The role of the media Traditional dissemination model • Media • The public • Libraries • Education • Government/org. • Business
Media NSI “New” dissemination model • The public • Libraries • Education • Government/org. • Business
The media are of vital importance because: • They represent an important channel of dissemination • They help increase the visibility and public recognition of the NSO • And can improve the publics trust in statistics
We must cooperate Journalists are our best friends …
Two basic rules when communicating with the media: • Equal treatment • No pre-release access • Establish a release calendar
In many NSOs dissemination is still limited, because: • Focus on data collection and processing • Lack of experience (and coordination) • ”Fear of dissemination”? • Lack of dissemination strategy and guidelines
“Statistics are people with the tears washed away” —Victor Sidel Jon.Hall@oecd.org