Data is alive!!!

Google recently released a new tool called the GIF maker that compares data in an animated format. Vignette is creating a data visualization on women’s reproductive rights as part of the EJC grant, and Jennifer Noland from World Press Photo’s online magazine, Witness, suggested we look into data GIFs.

The Google GIF maker is pretty straight forward: you enter two sets of data that you want to compare and then download the results as a GIF. It’s a basic, but effective tool.

Animating data is a good addition to any storytelling toolkit, and I wanted to take a look at some visualizations to see how using GIFs can be helpful in understanding and tackling global issues.

Vox made an effective GIF about displaced people worldwide. The beauty of this GIF is that it takes a lot of large data sets and interprets them so they’re easier to understand.


Data animations are also good for explaining issues like global warming, where it’s hard for the general population to see the impact unless you visualize it over a period of time.


Lena Groeger, a journalist in San Francisco put together a great page with different examples of how you can use data GIFs, as well as a tutorial about how to make them yourself.

These are two of my favorite Lena had on her site:

If you have favorite data GIFs, we’d love to see them. Post your links in the comments below!

By Tara Todras-Whitehill

Tara worked as a staff photographer for the Associated Press for four years in the Middle East, covering the uprisings, revolutions and numerous elections in the Arab world. Her photography has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic and Washington Post, among many others. She also works on personal projects focused on women's issues. Her passion is trying to portray strong women changing their lives and the world around them.

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