Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category
- Topology data
- Epidemiology data
- Sets of time series
- Medical data
- Geographic maps
- Network connections
- Financial data
- U.S. Government Budget
- Billions of customer transactions
- Radiation doses and their impact over time
Improving large-scale analysis of these and many other massive data sets presents an ongoing challenge for businesses, academia and government. Using information visualization techniques, however, allows us to explore visually and perhaps arrive at some understanding of patterns and groupings that might otherwise remain invisible.
Essentially, information visualization allows you to extract meaningful information from a sea of data.
And those data do not have to correspond only to the physical and concrete. They can be abstract, drawn from the domains of the symbolic, the textual, the logical, the tabular, the networked, and the hierarchical, among others.
Example: Accessing the Geosocial Universe via Mobile Devices
How popular are the various geosocial networks with mobile users? This infographic is a good example of “compare and contrast.”
Example: Ranking Themes in Documents
If you’re curious about the relationships among documents, this visualization shows clusters of themes and their strengths in health- and medical-related literature.
Example: Ordering News Topics by “Interestingness”
Ever want to find out what are the hottest news topics within a given time period? In this visualization, the most reported (hottest) topics are in the center column. Less-reported topics appear in the side columns.
Using Information Visualization to Improve Your Publications
For your visualization to be effective, it must be useful to your audience as well as aesthetically appealing. This requires thoughtful analysis, attention to detail, imagination, and no small amount of perseverance. This YouTube video provides some examples and techniques. You may also find inspiration in Edward Tufte’s website.
The idea is that you do the heavy lifting, so your audience doesn’t have to.
To guide your work, ask the following questions:
Does your visualization have a purpose? That is, what is the story you are trying to tell with this visualization? What information are you trying to tease out of the data and put into visual form?
Is your visualization the best one to convey the story? That is, when your audience sees the visualization, will they immediately grasp the “big picture” of your analysis of the data? Will they easily grasp the meaningful patterns in the subject? If details are also important, does your visualization scale to that level in a way that makes sense for the subject and the audience?
Is your visualization interactive? Interactive views allow you to guide the story and are especially helpful when there is too much detail to show all at once. Although interactivity works best online, it can be approximated in print by breaking out information into related visualizations.
Is your visualization beautiful? Beauty influences comprehension. How you present something can determine its usefulness. Visual attributes such as fonts, colors, sizing, orientation of view, scaling of graphic elements and placement of graphic elements have a large impact on the user experience. For an example of WOW! beautiful maps, check out Maps: Visualizing Twitter and Flickr Data.
Tell me, do you think information visualization is the new frontier?
Now it’s your turn: What do you think? Do you use information visualization in your work? Do you generate your designs by software or have a graphic artist create them? I’d really like for you to keep the conversation going by leaving comments. Thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
In one of my online discussion groups, someone recently asked what sort of successful offline strategies for book promotion published authors have used. I’ve adapted part of my response for this post and hope that if you are a published author you’ll share one or two of your successful offline strategies for marketing your book.
When you start to develop the offline marketing plan for your book, your first questions should be:
- Who is my audience?
- Where are they likely to look for the kind of book I have written?
How you answer those questions will help determine which offline strategies you might consider. The following suggestions have worked for me as well as for some of my ghostwriting clients who asked for tips on marketing. Of course there are other strategies you can pursue, but these will get you started on developing a marketing plan for your book.
If you are publishing your book through a traditional publisher, the two of you will discuss who does what. (Most authors publish with smaller houses, which assume the author will be responsible for much of the marketing.) Just expect to handle a fair amount of the marketing and promotion yourself, unless you are a celebrity with wide name recognition or your book is so compelling that the big publishing houses are engaged in a frenzied bidding war to land your manuscript. (Compelling? It’s a code word that means “appears poised to make huge sales.”)
If you are self-publishing, then you are the publisher, of course, and in that case will especially want to pick and choose among those strategies that are likely to give you the most return (that is, book sales) for the time and effort invested.
Get all the reviews you can. Work with your publisher to have the book sent around to the most appropriate journals, magazines, digests, newspapers and other publications for review. See if your publisher will actually handle sending the review copies: this is a big job, and if your publisher is willing and already has a database full of contacts, be grateful. (And possibly consider sending your publisher a lovely thank-you note and fabulous flowers or delectable chocolates). If you are really lucky, your publisher will also track and assemble the review clippings, and send copies of them to you. Reviews serve many purposes; one of the most important is to help generate orders from bookstores, book clubs and other outlets.
Get out there and give interviews! Follow up on the press releases and review copies that have already been sent out by contacting local and national magazines, journals, newspapers, and radio and TV stations to set up interviews. Naturally, you’ll want to target those that are appropriate for your book, so when you make your pitch, be sure you know how your book is relevant to the publication’s or show’s audience—in other words, be able to tell them why they should interview you as opposed to another of the many authors who are also trying to snag an interview. Bonus: Since many publications and stations also have a website, your interview just might also appear online in written form or, in some cases, as a podcast.
Some nonfiction books lend themselves beautifully to seminars. If you decide that seminars make sense as part of your promotion strategy, consider structuring the fee to include a copy of your book for each participant.
Would speaking engagements work for your book? Many authors spread the word by speaking to professional associations, special-interest groups, conferences and other organizations. Tip: Ask if they can give your book a plug in their handouts and publicity (don’t assume they’ll just do it; be sure to ask and offer to supply the copy or advertising insert). Also, make sure you always have plenty of books on hand to sell on site; alternatively, you might arrange for a local bookstore to handle sales of your book at the event.
Before and after your book is published, consider writing articles about your book’s subject for relevant magazines, newspapers and journals. If you can manage a column, you’ll derive even more exposure. You might also approach selected publications and pitch excerpts from your book. The point is to get your book and your name in front of your audience, grab their attention, and motivate them to buy a copy. Bonus: Like other authors, you’ll probably find that the experience and the clips will have many future uses.
What about readings and book signings at bookstores, libraries, book clubs and similar venues? Although many writers dreamily imagine reading to large crowds of enraptured fans and signing books for long lines of adoring readers, in reality those events often seem to work best (that is, they produce the most traffic and sales) for well-known/celebrity writers or for topics that attract hordes of readers, no matter who the author is. Test the market for this type of event by talking with your local booksellers and librarians.
Whatever set of strategies you select to incorporate into your marketing plan—good luck!
Now it’s your turn: Have you used any of these strategies to market your book? What worked best for you? What other offline promotion efforts produced book sales for you? Take part in the conversation by leaving comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
If you started to think about your company’s publications as behaviors instead of things, would such a shift in perspective change the resulting documents? Would your customers respond to your message in a different way?
Consider the publications that you and others in your company create—they probably run the gamut, from sales and marketing literature to online pages to proposals to technical documentation and maybe even to interactive multimedia presentations and video scripts.
Like most writers, you work with others to establish the requirements for each publication and to generate and refine its specifications. You create an outline that captures the topics, features and procedures to be included in each document and organize that content in a way that satisfies the project specifications.
Such an approach is based on seeing the document as a thing. And, while it may be necessary, at least in part, is it sufficient? Does it really satisfy your customers’ needs? Does it let you wring every last drop of value out of what you spend on trying to connect with your customers?
What if you viewed a publication as a set of behaviors, instead of just a thing?
For starters, this might mean that your project requirements stated how your company’s customers would interact with the publication—and any associated product. After all, why do your customers read your stuff? What do they expect to get out of it?
If you thought about customer behaviors—for example, how they use the publication, the ways in which they need to access the document, how they find topics, how they use the information, what other resources they might need, how they might use the document as a focal point for customer-to-customer and customer-to-company interaction—would those considerations change your document specifications? Would the specs begin to reflect a mindset that took user experience into account?
If you viewed each publication as describing, prescribing and integrating a dynamic set of behaviors among your customers, your products and your company, how would that change the types of documents you create?
Would you enhance your publication model to include various scenarios and anticipated interactions that played to customer needs and experiences?
Begin to think about your company’s publications as behaviors instead of things, and I’ll bet your documents become more interactive, more dynamic, more user-friendly and more attuned to your customers.
Now let’s talk: What is your opinion? If you create publications, what is your approach? As a customer, how do you respond to companies’ offline and online publications: What do you like about them? What don’t you like? You can leave your comment at the top of this post. Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
Happy New Year! As you make your business resolutions for the coming year, communicating better is likely on your list. Whether you are an entrepreneur charging forward at the head of a fast-track startup or are growing an established small, midsize or large company, you know that telling your story and getting your message out to your customers and prospects is absolutely vital to your continued success.
With my best wishes to you for a kickin’ and profitable New Year, here are four hot-off-the-press tips that will work wonders for you in 2011.
1. Set Your Objective
Establish an objective to serve as the framework for your communication project. In other words, what is your purpose in reaching out to your customers, a colleague, prospects, your staff, or the general public? What do you want your audience to know, do, think, or feel? What results are you looking to get? From a single letter to an entire advertising campaign in a variety of media, you must know why you are communicating.
Taking aim and knowing what your target is before you take action gives you a real edge over your competition. So don’t bypass the tried-and-true advantage of figuring out where you want to go before you hit the trail: set an objective.
2. Develop Your Strategy
Now that you have an objective, you need a way to get there. The path to your objective is your strategy.
A useful way of thinking about strategy is to ask this question: what achievable steps can I take to reach my objective? In other words …
What is your product, process, idea, and so on? Who are your audiences? How can you engage and hold their interest? What sort of material (white papers, letters, brochures, books, manuals, videos, websites, blogs and other social media, and so on) do you need to create to reach your audiences? What must you say to your audiences to accomplish your objective? What is your point of view? How do you begin to tell your story, make your pitch, start your message to get through to your audiences?
Basically, you can think of strategy as defining the who, what, where, when, and how as specifically as you can. Strategy is your gameplan, and every step must lead to the why, which is your objective.
3. Establish Your Theme
In music, a theme is a pattern of notes that makes the dominant statement at the opening of a composition. After establishing a theme in a piece, the composer develops it and plays with it until the end, when the musical exploration is resolved into a re-statement of the theme.
Communicating by words and images is similar. A good theme lets you own one or several words in the marketplace which are identifiably yours. In this sense, a theme positions or brands your message, that is, it creates “shelf space” in the minds of your audiences.
A theme is the glue that holds your strategy together. If you are spangling messages across market segments and platforms, what is the tie that binds, the unifying element, the cohesive force? Your theme.
You want coherence and organic unity? Grab yourself a dominant theme and stick with it for the project.
4. Create Your Message
Build your message around your theme. The message also must fit within some part of your strategy, so that it helps achieve your objective.
The persuasiveness and effectiveness of a message stem from four factors: what you say, how you say it, where you say it, and how often you say it.
The most important aspect of a message, however, is that you have to write for the audience. Do you know your audience well enough to send them a message they will find meaningful? Will your audience understand your message? Are you using words and images that are relevant and familiar to your audience? Will your message achieve the desired results with your target audience? Is the message appropriate for the medium you have selected, for example, the digital market space, a print magazine, a video or a white paper?
What are your thoughts on how to communicate well? Please share them by leaving a comment. Thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas