Open Tools (5): XKCD-Style Narrative Charts

The series Open Tools presents openly available tools supporting mostly qualitative SAP research. This post is about the Open Source tool “Narrative Charts” by Simon Elvery.

In between highly productive episodes of practice research some of us might have browsed through the web comics of XKCD and stumbled across their narrative charts of movie plots such as Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, or Jurassic Park.

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So did Simon Elvery, a data journalist with ABC News Australia, who was looking for a way to visualize a highly complex political scandal. Inspired by XKCD he developed an open software tool that allows to automate the creation of such narrative charts using data on the main actors, coalitions and events. Elvery’s XKCD-style visualization of the political scandal shows impressively how this tool can be used to compress an entire dossier of narration into a visual representation.

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For scholars interested in practice and process, these automated charts could be an interesting addition to more traditional forms of data representation (tables, flow charts), especially when the focus lies on processes of emergence or distributed agency (Quack, 2007).

This post was provided by Maximilian Heimstädt (Freie Universität Berlin).


About m.heimstaedt

Maximilian Heimstädt is a post-doctoral researcher at the Reinhard Mohn Institute of Management at Witten/Herdecke University. In his research he explores the genesis and effects of openness as an organizing principle. He lives in Witten, Germany.
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