From KQED: You Decide - Challenge Your Audience's Economic Assumptions

Today we hear from Nick Vidinsky, a web producer at KQED Public Media, about the You Decide tools they created as part of the Economy Collaboration funded by CPB:

Want to challenge your audience with provocative economic data, but you just don't have the time to produce it yourself?  Well, look no further!

As a web producer at KQED in San Francisco, I'm excited to let you all know about You Decide - our "online devil's advocate."  We designed You Decide to be as shareable as possible, so that stations can feature our interactive activities on their own websites.  We hope you find it useful!

What is You Decide?

Funded by CPB as part of a nationwide collaboration on economic coverage, You Decide is a website and series of standalone activities meant to challenge users' assumptions on economic issues, at the personal and policy levels.

Is now the right time to buy a home?

Does your job have a future?

Should the government pay for laid-off people to go to school?

These are issues that people tend to have pretty strong feelings about.  Yet the data shows that these seemingly black-and-white issues are a whole lot grayer than one might think.  You Decide is designed to push users toward that gray area, by educating them on the complexities of these issues and providing users an opportunity to engage with each other and the facts.

How Many and For How Long?

You Decide launched at the beginning of the year with four activities.  We will publish six more on an on-going basis through April 2010.  Subscribe to our email service (look for it at the bottom of our website) to receive an email whenever we publish a new activity.  You can also keep track by subscribing to our RSS feed.

kqed-yd-widget.pngWhat Exactly Does it Do?

Each You Decide activity begins with a provocative question, and prompts the user to respond with what he or she believes to be true.  After making a decision, the user sees a breakdown of all responses, to see how his or her opinion compares with other users.

Now comes the learning.  The user can explore the facts, presented as either a graphic or an interactive data table.  See which states are receiving the most transportation stimulus funds.  Compare future job growth across industries.  You get the idea.

kqed-yd-embed.pngAfter exploring the data, users are prompted to engage with each other on the issue by starting a conversation in the comments section.  There is also a "Learn & Share" section, which provides links to related content and code for sharing You Decide.

How Can You Feature You Decide?

There are three different ways you can feature You Decide on your station's website.  Code for these options can be found on the You Decide website and in the "Learn & Share" section of each activity.

  1. Auto-updating widgets
    We have a widget - available in two sizes - that will always feature the question from our latest activity.  Put this on your site and whenever we publish a new activity (about twice a month), the widget will update with the new question. Clicking on the widget will take users to the activity on the You Decide website.

  2. Activity-specific widgets
    We also have widgets - in two sizes - that are specific to each activity.  If you see an activity that you particularly like, or that dovetails nicely with certain content on your site, embed that activity's widget.  Clicking on the widget will take users to the activity on the You Decide website.

  3. Embed an activity
    You can also put an entire You Decide activity directly on your site, by copying and pasting the activity's iframe embed code.

So go ahead, give it a try!  And if you have any topic suggestions, send them along!

Nick Vidinsky
KQED Public Media

To learn more about other economy related resources, visit the Economy Collaboration Knowledge Network at, or read up on the Economy Collaboration Video Widget right here on this blog (Part 1, and Part 2). 

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