Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Innovative Interactivity: 100 notable multimedia professionals

Via Innovative Interactivity:

You may not know it, but the multimedia field is filled with inspirational gurus. Last year I highlighted 40 of them, but after a year of scouring the Web and interacting with II readers, I felt the need to publish an updated list. Included are 100 notable data visualization specialists, graphic artists, videographers, photographers, interactive designers, programmers, storytellers, visual journalists and Web developers.

I made a conscious decision not to sub-divide this list by specialty because I strongly believe that it is important to be familiar with work done in all visual fields to truly succeed as a multimedia professional. If you are not included on this list, it could be because I have not stumbled across your work (well, that or I just had a momentary memory lapse!). If this is the case, please introduce yourself and your work so I can put you on my radar. In most cases I tried to use producers’ own words for descriptions. However, if there was no about page (shame!), I just wrote a quick synopsis.

NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list of all excellent multimedia producers. I have already noticed several names that I meant to include, but I really like the “100″ benchmark. Therefore, there is always room to grow and perhaps next year I will include more …

Read the full article.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Globe and Mail: Bad Bets, an Interactive Investigative Series on Problem Gambling

The Globe and Mail has a new investigative reporting series called ‘Bad Bet‘ about problem gamblers. Besides the usual stories, there is an audio timeline feature and some interactive content created in Flash. Photo credit: John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

October 2 - Casinos spend millions to make losers feel like winners. Lisa Priest chronicles the story of Paul Issacs who played machines, roulette and baccarat. It took him less than two years to lose over $1.2-million.

Casinos, in turn, rewarded Mr. Isaacs with Rolex and TAG Heuer wristwatches, theatre tickets and limousine rides. And when his home sustained smoke damage, he and his family stayed free at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont., for 21/2 months, meals included. It’s a card casinos play often. Government-owned gaming emporiums are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to provide gamblers with “comps” – from hotel rooms to hockey tickets to cruises – feeding players’ habits and leading some to financial ruin.

October 03 - A family man’s tragic transformation. There is also an audio/photo timeline about Mr. Hallet whose family estimate he lost over $380 000 and eventually committed suicide.

John Hallett lost his interest in reading and playing with his grandchildren. He began to drive without tags or insurance. All he wanted to do was go to the casino, Lisa Priest reports. ‘This is not my father,’ his heart-broken daughter said. And one day, even he couldn’t take it any more.

October 05 - The million-dollar club: Losing big, losing often:

High rollers are losing more than $1-million a year apiece and others are dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars at some Canadian casinos, according to documents that reveal for the first time the magnitude of gamblers’ betting habits.

October 05 - Wheels of fate not a … ways kind to seniors. This article features a number of statistical charts/graphs.

lutching the handle of his worn cane, Don Blair boards a bus that will transport him from the parking lot of a discount grocery store to another world – a glitzy casino a province away. It is not an easy journey for Mr. Blair to make with his aching back, knees and hips. But it is too good a deal for the 85-year-old to pass up. The coach picks him up in Brockville, Ont., and whisks him to Quebec’s Casino du Lac-Leamy for five hours of gambling – for $15, round trip.

October 05 - Losing big, losing often . Scroll down in this article to reach the transcript of the live chat entitled: “Problem gamblers and governments who love them”.

In Monday’s Globe and Mail, reporter Lisa Priest detailed the exploits of Canada’s top 100 gamblers in The million-dollar club: Losing big, losing often. After examining the data, Robert Williams, the Lethbridge co-ordinator of the Alberta Gaming Research Institute, said it is “very likely” a majority of those in the top 100 are problem gamblers. According to Mr. Williams, it’s “scandalous” that governments have not done more to identify and help them - a conclusion he reached after conducting studies that show the highest net losses are sustained by problem players.

October 06 - What to do when your best customers have a problem:

Problem gambler Barbar Maalouf signed a form banning himself from Ontario’s casinos more than six years ago, but he returned to Woodbine Raceway hundreds of times, driving up his total gambling debt to at least $1-million. So severe was his compulsion to bet that for five months he had no home, and at times the free casino buffet was the only meal for him and his wife Georgia, he said.

October 07 - Gambling-related suicides across Canada:

Quebec has the highest number of gambling-related suicides in Canada – some 225 of them over a seven-year period. But not all provinces compel their coroners to report gambling-related suicides, which often require investigation to disentangle the deaths from other causes. With no countrywide statistics, The Globe and Mail contacted each province to track the numbers of gambling-related suicides. Although the Canada Safety Council estimates 200 problem gamblers kill themselves each year, The Globe found only 46 such deaths were recorded in 2006 among the seven provinces reporting.

And finally, the interactive Flash features: Slot tutorial and Slot calculator

Game Planit, producer of products to educate consumers and operaters on ethical gaming, have developed the following tools in order to explain the inner workings of slot machines and similar games of chance to problem gamblers. They were developed by the President of Game Planit, Roger Horbay, who is a seasoned manager, electronic gaming machine expert, problem gambling specialist, trainer and researcher. He agreed to share them with Globe readers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Charting and Mapping with amCharts and amMaps

With a wide range of ways to create online maps, many more news organizations are using these tools to create interesting and unique ones. Some media companies are consistently producing interactive maps that are both visually engaging and educational.

Besides Google Maps, there are a number of robust mapping and charting solutions available to journalists. Many of them are free or have a low-cost, and more importantly, they’re easy-to-use. Two popular choices are amMaps and amCharts.

amMaps and amCharts are two popular choices from a small company based in Vilnius, Lithuania. amMap is a tool for creating interactive Flash maps while amChart creates interactive Flash charts.

Both have a free and paid version. The only limitation of the free versions are that a small link will be placed on the maps and charts. amMap and amCharts are Flash, but the Macromedia Flash program is not required, and neither is a knowledge of flash. Data is entered in a separate text file; information can be drawn from existing files such as XML and CSV, both of which can be exported from spreadsheets.

amCharts is capable of generating many types of charts including Stock, Column & Bar, Line & Area, Pie & Donut, Scatter & Bubble and Radar & Polar while amMap comes with continents (currently two, but more will follow), the world and individual country maps.

amCharts can also read dynamic data generated with PHP, .NET, Java, Ruby on Rails, Perl, ColdFusion, and many other programming languages. It also has an online visual editor in beta. amMaps can utilize photos or illustrations which can be used as layers and backgrounds of maps. amCharts and amMap can even be mashed up together. For example, you can load a separate chart when your users click on a country, and use it to show statistical information.

Here are three excellent examples of amMaps and amMaps in action:

USA Today - Swine Flu Cases and Precaution’s Around the World.

Mozilla - Spread Firefox

Dismal Scientist - Global Recession Status

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New York City, a mecca of multimedia journalism

New York City…center of the universe. Okay not quite, but there are a lot of great multimedia stories and interactive projects emerging from the City that Never Sleeps. There is perhaps no better way to take in the many landmarks of Manhattan than an aerial tour of the area. In today’s economy, a helicopter ride perhaps isn’t the most efficient means of transportation, but thanks to Pixelcase you can still take in magnificent views of the city. The interactive, panoramic photographs let users zoom across the New York skyline, above the noise and traffic.

Read the full article.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Databases and polls: When numbers are the news

Many news organizations have for years culled news stories from analog databases such as police records or census information and most online news media have set up quick polls that are attached to their news stories. Because of the internet and the multimedia tools available to us, we can do more with the facts and figures we might otherwise overlook. The following sites and news sections have taken ordinary numbers and have turned them into extraordinary resources.

Read the full article.

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