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SEPTEMBER 19, 2008   

2008 election: are we there yet?

We've had a mini-burst of electoral activity around here, with Joanne going to a postcard-writing party with three dozen other women, hand-writing messages to undecided women voters. She was joined at this and a similar party at another friend's house by apparently all the women we know. I sat home and read a book, or something like that.

Today we had a house party for a friend, Mary Jo Kilroy, running for U.S. Congress in Columbus, Ohio. I was more involved in this one, cleaning the house and making a big batch of peach salsa with ingredients from our back yard. Honestly, that about as much political activity as I'm comfortable with, although in the last presidential election I actually went door to door talking with potential voters, desperately trying to prevent a Bush victory.

So since I probably won't be knocking on your door anytime soon, let me offer a bit of election information in the form of a website (surprise, surprise) that offers a highly graphic look at election news. Like the perspctv.com site I talked about recently, it aggregates news articles from various sources and puts them into a more graphic format.

EverymomentNow screenshotThe new site Everymomentnow.com charts news articles about the presidential/vice presidential candidates over time. It displays the data in a highly graphic style that appeals to me as a designer. The site's tagline seems logical enough: "Context and scope to the moments shaping our world."

But... you knew there was a "but", right? But it doesn't make sense to me. I've spent time on two occasions exploring the site and trying to grasp what I was seeing, but I still don't get it.

I understand what I'm looking at—mostly—but it doesn't make anything clearer. The bar charts provide another way of slicing and dicing the vast amount of information on the election and candidates, but I'm not convinced that this way is any better.

Chart showing how Everymomentnow worksHere's how the site's developer puts it on the About page:

If stories 'above the fold' are important and those 'below the fold' secondary, then Everymoment Now is looking 'behind the fold'; (fig 1) that is laterally, through time. Moments connected with an event both above and below the fold are brought next to each other to gain insight into the now.

Using the newspaper term "the fold" doesn't clarify the concept for me at all.

I want to like this site. It's obviously the product of much thought and effort, and I applaud any effort to make the torrent of news we live with more understandable. In this case, however, I'm not seeing things more clearly. I'm seeing a pattern but not grasping the big picture. I'm seeing the trees but not the forest.

Anyway, look at EverymomentNow and judge for yourself. I'd love to hear your opinion: does help you understand "the moments shaping our world?"

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