There has been a lot of change at Time.com in the past two years: We’ve relaunched the site, introduced a global breaking news desk, grown our video journalism and created TIME’s first interactive news team, to name just a few of the exciting things going on.
Today we are thrilled to introduce you to a new site called TIME Labs, the home base for interactive data journalism at TIME. We have gathered some old favorites and added some new ones, and we’ll be continually updating the site with new projects and posts.
What can you expect from TIME Labs? The ever-blossoming technologies in Web browsers and smart phones give us tremendous potential to make things that you’ve never seen before on a news Web site. In the past few months, we’ve published apps that let you draw logos from memory, declared Makati City, Philippines, to be the “selfie capital of the world,” and even attempted to turn Census data into a dating app. The ever-blossoming technologies in Web browsers and smart phones give us tremendous potential to make things that surprise, entertain and inform all at once.
We’re calling articles on Labs “stories,” because that’s just what they are: Narratives built from data where you control the plot. But TIME Labs is more than just a clearinghouse for stuff we think is cool. It’s also a place where you can explore the data that powers our projects. In addition to stories, we’ve also created pages called “data sheets” that take you behind the scenes to see the whole story of how a bunch of numbers can become a map, a chart, a game or anything else you see here.
A “data sheet” might not sound tremendously exciting, but one goal of TIME Labs is to push the boundaries of what we mean when we say “data.” The word tends to conjure up spreadsheets, scientific papers and debates over government surveillance. To us, it means any sort of human artifact that can be represented quantitatively and analyzed by a computer. A Census record of the number Iranian-Americans living in each state is data, but so are the transcripts of The Big Bang Theory, the color values of each pixel in the Mona Lisa, and the chord changes in every Neil Young song.
There’s no mathematical or computing expertise necessary to understand these pages. The purpose is to be transparent about the strengths and limitations of the data we use in our projects. If you do happen to like to write your own code and do your own analysis, we’ll also be giving readers’ access to as much of our code as possible. You can find links to our Github repositories on the data pages. We think this is an important piece of transparency too.
We hope you are delighted by the projects here. We’re grateful to the millions of people who have calculated how much time they’ve spent on Facebook, discovered what state best matches their personality, lost a half hour to the latest in baby names and participated in many other stories that now live here. Your enthusiasm for these stories has helped make Time.com’s interactive articles some of the most popular journalism created at TIME.
We want to hear from you. Send us any ideas you have for ways to make numbers come alive. You can reach me any time at email@example.com, on Twitter or on GitHub.