This week we show you four free tools for creating online infographics, and we find out how a lush environment packed with multiple species leads to more innovation.

PART 1: Free online infographics tools

Web-based graphics applications are making it easy for just about anyone to create charts and other types of data visualizations for online stories. We provide an overview of four free sites newsrooms could use.

Reporting by Sarah Harkins.

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The tools:

  • offers about 30 different chart types, as well as other infographic forms, along with a series of pre-made visual themes. You can upload your own data in .xls, .xlsx, and .csv formats and can combine elements to build a page of data visualizations.

  • Piktochart enables creation of charts and infographics either from pre-made themes or from a blank canvas. You can add data in .csv format and customize pages with drag-and-drop graphics. Free account provides a limited number of themes, images and graphics.

  • uses a drag-and-drop interface for creating “visual ideas” like flow charts and Venn diagrams.  While it does not include an option to upload data or video, it does offer many options for customization, and all accounts are free. It is currently still in beta testing.

  • Google Charts is chart-building tool for anyone who isn’t afraid of coding and likes embeddable graphics with interactivity.  

And a free software option:

  • Tableau (Public) is a free Windows-only software available for download to your PC that enables you to upload data sets and create visualizations from them. The graphics can then be embedded into your website. Note that the data sets become publicly available to anyone via the Web as soon as they are uploaded.

PART 2: Innovation rain forests

Henry Doss and Greg Horowitt of the Silicon Valley firm T2 Venture Creation say a successful breeding ground for innovation should look like a rain forest rather than the traditional agricultural farm that many industries resemble. We find out what they mean and how ideas they use to advise startup companies could be applied to a newsroom.  
Reporting by Chelsea Stuart.
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For more information:

Greg Horowitt is a co-founder of T2 Venture Creation and co-author with Victor W. Hwang of The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley. In addition to supporting startups, T2VC offers training workshops for leaders and innovators.

Henry Doss is a regular contributor to Forbes, writing about innovation, leadership and the humanities. He often focuses on how leaders across companies can be more strategically innovative themselves, as well as strengthening innovation in the workplace.  

Additional Reading:

"The innovator’s 2013 summer reading list: Eight books to make you smarter" (Washington Post) includes works by "iconoclastic thinkers who have the potential to give you new insights and unique perspectives on the world."

Reuben Stern  
Director of NYC Partnerships


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