MIT and Emerson College Professors Create Website for Online Tool Reviews

Trying to learn new online tools to keep up with the data-centric world we are living in, but overwhelmed by the number of available options? NetStories.org, run by MIT professor Rahul Bhargava, Emerson College professor Catherine D’Ignazio, and Dalia Othman, a visiting scholar at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, breaks down the myriad of options available. NetStories gives a brief review for each of the dozens of tools listed, with options for eleven different types of tools, from publishing platforms to infographics to data scraping.

While some of the tools require more in-depth knowledge, all of the reviews give a basic Netintroduction to the tools as well as links to more detailed instructions. Like all tools, each requires practice to fully exploit their full potential, but with a little effort anyone can produce publication-worthy data visualizations.

Since proficiency with these types of tools is quickly becoming a necessity for many jobs in the field, both teachers and students can gain valuable knowledge by learning how professionals create and maintain these fascinating visualizations. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, who correctly predicted 49 out of the 50 state winners in the 2008 presidential election, turned the public eye towards visualizations, creating such a demand that the New York Times and ESPN had a bidding war for his website and services.

NetStories, while not the only destination to learn about the tools available, is a fantastic starting point to learn which tools fit which project. Check out their resources on their website, and let us know which tools work best for you.

Explore online tools on Netstories

Correction: a previous version of this story did not include Dalia Othman as one of the academics working on NetStories. 

Ryan Smythe

Ryan Smythe

Ryan Smythe is a journalism major at Emerson College who enjoys writing, editing, and using his beard as a pillow to take naps on. He will soon be moving to Los Angeles to find out if the grass really is greener on the other side.