Join Bill Shander for an in-depth discussion in this video 4x4 model for knowledge content, part of Learning Data Visualization.
- [Narrator] In this movie we're going to talk about something I call the four by four Model for Knowledge Content. It's really a basic philosophy for communications, and visualization is a key part of it. The big idea is it's about getting the right people to the right content at the right time. So. let's start at the beginning. If you go back to the beginning of human communications, humans have been telling each other stories forever. But, if you look forward to today, and you think about where we're telling each other these stories, where this content lives, it lives out in this Galilean Model of the Universe, as my friend Drew calls it, where all these conversations are happening out on the Web, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter.
In other words, your website is not the center of the universe where these conversations are happening, where this content is living. This is a key idea to keep in mind. The second key idea is the explosion of content. As Eric Schmidt said, we now create more content every two days than was created from the dawn of civilization through 2003. 2003, we're not even talking about 1990. This is after the dotcom boom. And by the way, this quote is from 2010, so it's probably every single day or every half day now.
So that's the second key idea to keep in mind. We're in an age of data overload. But luckily there's a solution for this. There's a solution for this data overload problem which is that we can communicate for scanners, we can design for scanners. So for instance, if you've ever seen an eye tracking study where you have someone sit down in front of a computer and look at content, and there's a little camera tracking their eye movements. This is what it tends to look like. On the right hand side here, there's this very typical F pattern where people start on the left hand side and scan to the right, and drop and scan, and drop and scan, and drop and scan.
Then, if you look at it like on Google search results, the scanning and the dropping just stops after the first few entries. But of course there is a design solution. We can put a face on a page to draw an eye to the face. We can put elements on the page to draw the eye. We can solve this problem through good design. Interestingly, there are extra tricks we can use. For instance, if you turn the face towards the content, not only will people look at the face, but they'll look where that face is looking. So we have techniques to solve this issue.
And here's the third big idea. It's actually been shown by a study done at Northwestern University a few years ago that information overload is actually a myth. So, while we sort of feel overwhelmed at times, we actually are generally empowered by the choices we have available to us online. But, and this is important, we are generally questioning the accuracy of the information we are getting online. The four by four model was designed to solve and address these issues that we're facing right now. And it really comes down to this.
You want to create content on four levels, and you want to bake into that content four key components as much as you possibly can. So let's walk through it really quickly. What you have are these four levels of content that I call the water cooler, the cafe, the research library, and the lab. So what is the water cooler? The water cooler moment in content online is, it's an image, it's a a tweet, it's like a 30-second video, it's the attention grabber. So like at a Monday morning you might be standing around the water cooler having conversation about that weekend's Boston Bruins hockey game, and maybe three of you are standing around, and two of you are big hockey fans.
You're going to sort of chat and talk about all the great goal scorers, and penalties, and all the exciting stuff. And one person standing around the water cooler that morning really couldn't care less about hockey. And so, at that moment, that attention grabbing moment, two of you who have interest in the subject may say, hey let's go to the cafe, let's get a cup of coffee, and let's talk more about it. The third person's going to say, yeah thank you very much, I've had quite enough, and that person's going to leave. So, we've lost one person from that next step into the conversation, and that's okay. That person did not belong.
They're not our audience for this content. So the two of you go to the cafe, and you have a longer conversation. So online that's the blog post, that's a short article, that's a three to five-minute video. And so, we're stepping into deeper content by enticing people, and they're going to self-select based on their interest in the conversation, in the topic. So once again, out of those two people at the cafe, one of them is really, really interested in the topic, and they're going to go to the research library and dig deep. They're going to read all kinds of articles. They're going to read long reports about NHL statistics, et cetera.
And finally, again based on self-selecting interest in the topic, they might want to go to the lab where they can really dig in deep into the data, and play with data tools, and filter and sort. That's the data lab, the interaction data experience. So these are the four levels of content and, as I mentioned before, it's really all about getting the right people to the right content at the right time. You're not always going to create research library and lab-level content but when you do, you want to make sure you always include water cooler content, leading to cafe content, leading to those deeper experiences to get the right people to the right content at the right time.
And as I mentioned before, the four key components, visualization, storytelling, interactivity and shareability, the more you can bake these components into your content the better off you'll be. Now of course here, today, we're mostly talking about visualization, but these are all aspects of it, and visualization's a key part of successful four by four communications.
- Channeling your audience
- Understanding your data
- Determining the information hierarchy
- Sketching and wireframing your ideas
- Defining your narrative
- Using typography, color, contrast, and shape to convey meaning
- Making your visualization interactive