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[new dialogues] Using data to build a creative story
blog
04/04/16

[new dialogues] is the R&D workroom of Creative Edinburgh, created to embed continual innovation and experimentation into the organisation. This project was supported by Creative Scotland via the Cultural Economy Fund.

How do you get people to engage with numbers?

Data and statistics are boring, right? Wrong! If you’ve never seen this engaging video with health expert and data visionary Hans Rosling explaining the best stats you’ve ever seen, spend those 20 minutes right now. Listening to Rosling go through trends and tendencies based on some pretty dry numbers means you’ll never look at spreadsheets in quite the same way again.

This is what data can do. The power of putting numbers into context by visualising them, by looking for patterns and finding the stories behind them is overwhelming. Organisations like Nesta and others in the creative industry use data to shed a light on different aspects of working in a creative role. In a recent project reviewing some of the data that Creative Edinburgh has available, I got to dig under the surface and explore some of the data we have at our disposal. There is still a lot of work needed to put the numbers together to get the engaging stories out there, but the [new dialogues] project has made a good start at identifying the things we know and the things we still want to find out.

What data can tell us about our creative community

Creative Edinburgh gathers data about members in a number of ways. From collecting details like your name, address and sector, we can start finding out where in the city creative clusters seem to be gathering. By looking at online signups and those who join at events, we can find patterns in membership types and the triggers that cause people to join. With information from Eventbrite, feedback surveys and data from our partners at the many Creative Edinburgh events, we can learn about how people engage with events, who goes to what and what events we should do more- and less!- of in the future. And from social platforms and conversations we have online, we can gather insights about anything from who our audience is and what they connect with, to what topics are controversial and what people just don’t care about.

All of this information helps put together pieces of the puzzle when we want to learn about the creative communities in Edinburgh. With it, we can start telling stories that make a difference. The aim is to learn and share information that we and others find useful, like these infographics by Nesta about the creative industries. And ultimately, data like this- while it’s interesting in its own right helps us be a better member organisation for the people we now know even more about.

The [new dialogues] project at Creative Edinburgh has been looking at data about the organisation to find out more about what goes into the creative mix in this city. We looked at everything from members and membership, event attendance, social engagement, gender, location and much, much more. And this is just the beginning. If we can get numbers about something, we will! But what do we do with all the data?

We can create membership lists, collections of data points and statistical tables with the data we collect. And we do- that’s how we process the data. However, the difference between browsing a table and looking at a graph is enormous. Visualising data means we don’t have to activate all our logical thinking to make sense of a set of numbers- we instantly know that this graph is trending upwards, or that this slice of the pie is much bigger than the other.

Read this blog post about some of the Creative Edinburgh insights we have found so far!

For more information on Hilde's work, follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn and be sure to check out her Creative Edinburgh member video here. Hilde Frydnes undertook the [new dialogues] Residency in November 2015.

[new dialogues] is the R&D workroom of Creative Edinburgh, created to embed continual innovation and experimentation into the organisation. This project was supported by Creative Scotland via the Cultural Economy Fund.

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