I’m still struggling with the issue of a topic focus.  As I look through my data sets, I’m finding myself spending a lot of time examining lobbying and campaign contribution numbers.  This is mostly due to the wonderful datasets provided by OpenSecrets.org.  Sunlight Labs has leveraged this dataset to create Influence Explorer.  While this is helpful in finding detailed information, it fails to provide a good overview of the entire organization/individual-lobbying-representative network.  It is more about searching than browsing (the main way to access data is through a search box).

As Prof. Stasko drilled into us again today in my Info Viz class, “Overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand” (Shcniedermann).  Influence Explorer goes straight to the details-on-demand step.  My viz might focus on the same dataset as Influence Explorer but will distinguish itself by including these “overview” and “zoom and filter” steps.  This will create context and the ability for broader pattern discovery.

It’s becoming increasing clear to me that my data sources will provide me with my analytic questions (which hopefully the viz will help answer).  This seems more natural than coming up with a topic and then looking for datasets to answer those questions.

I can’t waste anymore time coming up with a concrete analytic question.  Moving forward, I will spend part of my time dealing with these issues but a bulk of my time will be spent with development.  I must start building!  I’m hoping as I start connecting my data source to the interface, my focus will start to take shape.

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