International Data

Data and statistics can express a point powerfully and succinctly, if used and presented responsibly.  The UN offers a vast amount of data on international issues stretching from economic to health and environmental concerns.  Take a look at the UN’s own data bank for statistics, UNdata, that searches across offices and resources and offers a rich collection of 60 million records.

Numbers by themselves tell us a lot, but place them in relational context, and suddenly, with a quick glance you can compare across regions, at the blink of an eye you can pick up on trends.  Gapminder is a cool website that allows you to make your own charts with UN data, so dynamic that you can trace the change of your chart over a specific time frame.  Go into Gapminder world, choose an x- and y- axis from the drop-down menu, and play around.  I’ll only warn you that it’s so interesting, you might just get addicted to the data!

Producing and Reusing Responsibly

More and more often, college professors around the country are assigning new projects instead of a traditional research paper.  We recently had a Social Problems class in the library that were developing 2-3 minute viral advertisements to promote awareness on a specific social issue or problem.  Doing multimedia projects can be fun, but it comes with all kinds of new rules and responsibilities for using, adapting, and distributing information.  Did you know, for instance, that the production of any work of any kind, whether it be a snapshot, a term paper, or even a doodle, is copyrighted the moment it’s produced?  That means it’s FULLY protected against others taking, adapting, and republishing it — including you, even for a school project.  Fortunately, there are also sites out there that are willing and eager to make their content free for the taking and/or the adapting – mostly under a Creative Commons license.  Check out our Research Toolkit about finding multimedia resources for adaptation, and watch this video from the Creative Commons site that explains the restrictions of copyright and the benefits of using Creative Commons.  It’s incredibly important in this day and age to become a responsible user of information, but we also need to become responsible producers.  As you develop multimedia projects, think about sharing your own content under a creative commons license, too!