Technology Alert: Tableau

Data-mining. Pivot tables. Computer-assisted reporting. Tableau Software wants to make even the most spreadsheet-fearing person a visualization whiz.

Tableau is “a platform for interactive data visualization and online storytelling,” explains an introductory video on the company’s website. Its easy-to-use features allow people – from journalists to business executives – to take otherwise seemingly uninteresting data and “bring it to life for people.”

One of its cooler features is the “Show Me” button. After users import their data, they can click “Show Me” to see their records visualized in different ways!

Also cool? The visualizations can be embedded into ScribbleLive liveblogs so you can get even more use out of your infographics.

Lots of ScribbleLive clients have been making great use of this feature – especially in newsrooms!

Our client, The Seattle Times has been using Tableau to enhance their digital storytelling.

“Virtually every news organization out there right now is trying to figure out how to make sure that their readers are engaged in what they’re providing, and having interactive visualizations on our site is critical to doing that. It keeps us ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition with other news sites. We need to be leaders in our field, and Tableau helps us do that,”said Cheryl Phillips, their data enterprise editor, in an interview with Tableau.

This map detailing Seattle’s bike accident sites  from 2007-2012 is one example of how The Seattle Times used Tableau to boost its online visualization offerings.

“[Readers] could dig down into the corners and intersections and the streets where they lived and rode their bikes,”  said Justin Mayo, the paper’s computer-assisted reporting specialist, in an interview with Tableau. “[It] gave them much more detail than we would have ever given them in the paper, with just a static map.”

Mayo worked on the project and likes the platform because it allows people to do original reporting. Like the company’s introductory video states: “When information is presented from the right perspective, new findings appear.”

Learn more about how to use Tableau here and check out our previous Technology Alerts here:

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