Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Virtual Data II

Here's a quick follow-up on my previous post about Hans Rosling and his amazing Trendalyzer. As I wrote, Google bought the tool and Gapminder, the organization that built and maintained it. Just last month, Google threw open the doors and made the Trendalyzer available to all potential users. In addition, Google is providing code for anyone to transform data into a number of terrific visualizations, from piles of money to 3D donut graphics to timelines. Apparently the only limits are the data and the developer's imagination. And once a developer has created a new data visualization gadget, anyone can adopt it, pour in their own data, and drop it into a Web page. Once I get the hang of it, I hope to add some myself.

Soon, I'll write more about data visualization, unified communications and collaboration, the Army's big new simulation contract, what I learned at the Virtual Worlds conference in New York and what I will learn at the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds conference coming up next week. I'm also working on my first video and hope to add a News Channel 8 interview with me about virtual government to the site.

So what's the holdup? Well, I am making a huge technological leap from the world of PCs to the Mac. Virtual journalism about virtual government fairly well requires it. If you want to do podcasts, put video on the Web, create multimedia stories online and create immersive explanatory environments where viewers not only can see and hear, but can experience information, there's just no better vehicle than the Mac. I've met almost no one who works in multimedia journalism or virtual worlds, who doesn't swear by Apple's products. Don't get me wrong, the transition is far from a snap and I didn't make it without trepidation, but I have done a nearly total immersion. I'm flailing and gasping as a result. To retain its elegance and intuitiveness, the Mac Book Pro remains very picky about its associates. Non-Mac printers, for example, do not receive a warm welcome. Nor did the professional quality digital audio recorder. And it will take a couple trips to the Apple store to get my favorites and other files transferred from my Dell desktop and laptop.

On the other hand, once I got the camera talking with the Mac, video dropped into iMovies and was easy to edit. My birthday brought an iPod Touch, so I'm anxious to see how iTunes does with my CDs. I've no doubt it will eagerly swallow up whatever I want to buy.

So watch out world! Once I become proficient with all this new tech, I'll be a multimedia master.

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