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Stop Making Football Data So Much Hard Work!

20 December, 2011 1 comment

This post and all other business-focused posts are now being held on the Seven League blog.

 

This is a quick, and ranting, post.

This morning on of our excellent Performance Analysis team here at City pointed me in the direction of the ESPN Gamecast centre for the match on Sunday where City beat Arsenal. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But only up to a point. Then I put my “I’m not that much of a football fan” hat on … and I can’t help but spill out reasons why it doesn’t work for me.

So, here’s the 13 things that jump to mind. [Warning, but the end, it’s really winding me up]

  1. I want it full screen
  2. I expected a ‘play’ button to show me stuff. Maybe it could just put one tab after another – morphing along to show me the different things. that would be fun and it would show off the stuff for me like a little preview.
  3. Speaking of play buttons – where’s the video that should be linked into the gamecast – do i have to go somewhere else? this is espn, right?
  4. I clicked players and then silva and it looked like his heat map was all over the pitch – but then i wanted to compare it with the arsenal opposite number – only i don’t know who the opposite number is so i had to ask someone. i also had to ask what RM meant beside the name. Once I’d been told it was Right Midfield, i then compared silva’s heatmap with Alex Song’s… but I was aware that this might not be a good comparison. Is it? Isn’t it? and how the hell would i use this thing to find out? Why are you making this difficult for me to understand things.
  5. I want to compare with previous competitions between arsenal and city.
  6. I see no point in having a tab for ‘goals’ when there was only 1 and this screen shows me nothing.
  7. I want to be able to zoom in on a section of the pitch to see in more detail – then average position seems interesting, but they’re all clustered together and i have to be a surgeon with the mouse to identify different players.
  8. Where’s the colour key for the bottom? why are some names in grey?… oh yeah, because they were subbed. there’s probably a colour key somewhere… but why are you still making this difficult?
  9. I want to see a timeline of the game… to see it developing as it goes – and i want to be able to see it speeded up (or slowed down as i desire)
  10. I’m never going to read the text on the right. Why not compress it into a timeline so that key moments can be highlighted … i need it to show me key sections of commentary, not give me every blow (unless i want to dig that deep)
  11. The Report, Quotes, Commentary, Match Stats tabs are useless.. i barely even saw them.
  12. The whole thing is presented down the page after reams of nav… just give it to me in a nice pop-out… or at least in a clean page.
  13. Can I embed this on a blog? can i share it with friends?
  14. STOP MAKING ME WORK SO BLOODY HARD TO USE THIS THING – I WANT TO ENJOY IT… HELP ME ENJOY IT! I am a lazy sod, so just analyse and interpret on my behalf and then entertain me. ok, thanks, bye.

Ok. So, now that I’ve calmed down…

I suspect ESPN are well aware of all the options and all the complexities of user experience. This is, actually, one of the nicer implementations of this kind of data… But as I’ve previously banged on about, I still think it has a long way to go.

As time goes on and our work at City looks into the possibilities of datatainment it is becoming clear to me that the audience perspective is the essential factor. I may not be the target for ESPN’s gamecast, but despite football’s estimated 3.5bn fans, I still think some of them and the other 2.5bn people on the planet would appreciate a bit of an easier ride.

Either that or I’m just lazy.

Defining Data Visualisation, Data Journalism & Data Entertainment

21 August, 2011 7 comments

This post and all other business-focused posts are now being held on the Seven League blog.

 

After my blog post from last week, Data? Entertainment? You need Datatainment, and a comment about datatainment seeming very close to data visualisation, I thought I’d try to define my thinking on how these terms differ.

  • Data + Visualisation is the process of making the data visible – the representation, such as Nike + or the use of epic, relies upon the data itself being informative or entertaining, but the process of visualisation does not apply an editorial filter. Of course, any design belies the application of some kind of filter – but with visualisation there is an attempt to represent the ‘real’ events or facts.
  • Data + Journalism is using that visibility to investigate an issue or point – it may not necessarily visualise the data for the user, but will use the techniques of visualisation in the journalistic process.
  • Data + Entertainment is where you use data as the primary source of entertainment. You might choose to make the visualisation of raw data entertaining or perhaps use data visualisation as part of the process of entertainment – but there’s definitely a strong editorial control which is focussed on entertaining the audience rather than exposing data.

Let me try to give examples:

Data Vis: Showing the number of check-ins on location based services foursquare and facebook check-in by MCFC fans over the course of the season.

Data Journalism: Using the visualisation to explore the patterns of LBS behaviour on match-days and therefore the stress on local transport infrastructure.

Datatainment: During the pre-match show at City Square, profiling the fan who’d checked-in at the Etihad Stadium the most over the course of the season. Or, bearing in mind that we have a huge number of people who visit us online during a game, perhaps we might also represent the global locations of our fans – maybe using foursquare’s ‘swarm’ approach to identify key hubs of City fandom outside Manchester so that we can bring those fans closer to the match day experience.

There are better ideas of what to do with Datatainment for City, but I won’t write about them here as I’d rather talk to the fans and see if we can deliver them in the real world.

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