RJI Futures Lab update #24

Free infographics tools and innovation rain forests

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In this week's Futures Lab update, the Reynolds Journalism Institute examines four free tools for creating online infographics, and shows how a lush environment packed with multiple species leads to more innovation.

PART 1: Free online infographics tools

Web-based graphics applications are making it easy for just about anyone to create charts and other types of data visualizations for online stories. RJI provides an overview of four free sites newsrooms could use.
Reporting by Sarah Harkins.
[To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

The tools:

  • Infogr.am offers about 30 different chart types, as well as other infographic forms, along with a series of pre-made visual themes. You can upload your own data in .xls, .xlsx, and .csv formats and can combine elements to build a page of data visualizations.
  • Piktochart enables creation of charts and infographics either from pre-made themes or from a blank canvas. You can add data in .csv format and customize pages with drag-and-drop graphics. Free account provides a limited number of themes, images and graphics.
  • Easel.ly uses a drag-and-drop interface for creating "visual ideas" like flow charts and Venn diagrams.  While it does not include an option to upload data or video, it does offer many options for customization, and all accounts are free. It is currently still in beta testing.
  • Google Charts is chart-building tool for anyone who isn't afraid of coding and likes embeddable graphics with interactivity.  

And a free software option:

  • Tableau (Public) is a free Windows-only software available for download to your PC that enables you to upload data sets and create visualizations from them. The graphics can then be embedded into your website. Note that the data sets become publicly available to anyone via the Web as soon as they are uploaded.

PART 2: Innovation rain forests

Henry Doss and Greg Horowitt of the Silicon Valley firm T2 Venture Creation say a successful breeding ground for innovation should look like a rain forest rather than the traditional agricultural farm that many industries resemble. Find out what they mean and how ideas they use to advise startup companies could be applied to a newsroom.  
Reporting by Chelsea Stuart.
[To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

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