New York Times R&D Lab explores how news is shared and read with Project Cascade

Posted to Visualization  |  Tags: , , ,  |  Nathan Yau

For online publications, it’s useful to know how people share links to articles and news via outlets such as Twitter. How does an article go from publication to viral? Does one person with a lot of Twitter followers share a link, or is getting lots of individuals to tweet the key? You have retweet counts, but that doesn’t tell you anything within the sharing timeline—just the final result.

Project Cascade, by Jer Thorp, Mark Hansen, and Jake Porway as parts of the New York Times R&D Lab, helps you see how news spreads.

This first-of-its-kind tool links browsing behavior on a site to sharing activity to construct a detailed picture of how information propagates through the social media space. While initially applied to New York Times stories and information, the tool and its underlying logic may be applied to any publisher or brand interested in understanding how its messages are shared.

I suggest you watch the short summary video for an explanation on how it all works, but in short, there are several views that let you view the data in a variety of dimensions.

In the initial circular view, time starts in the center. This is when an article is actually published. Then each ring is another hour past, and each square is an activity such as link shortening or retweeting. For example, in the above the op-ed article America Goes Dark by Paul Krugman goes live. You should see a trickle of link-sharing in the beginning, but about five hours later, Tim O’Reilly tweets a link to his 1.4 million followers, and there’s a burst of activity as others retweet and comment.

Similarly, here is one view for an article on the JetBlue flight attendant who threw a hissy fit, and slide down an emergency slide. When you lay the circles flat, and look at activity on the vertical, you can see volume by time.

Or look at the data straight on for a strictly by-time view.

Impressive work, and this is just a small taste. I suspect there’s lot more, and as Jer notes, “Videos and screenshots don’t do Project Cascade justice – it runs on an iPhone-controlled 5 screen video wall.” I gotta get me one of those.

[Project Cascade via Nieman Journalism Lab]

1 Comment

Favorites

19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores

A closer look at the age old question of where there are more bars than grocery stores, and vice versa.

A Day in the Life of Americans

I wanted to see how daily patterns emerge at the individual level and how a person’s entire day plays out. So I simulated 1,000 of them.

Most popular porn searches, by state

We’ve seen that we can learn from what people search for, through the eyes of Google suggestions: state stereotypes, national …