An interactive explainer on what the yield curve is and why investors take it so seriously as an economic indicator. An innovation in this piece was the use of data sonification techniques which allowed readers to LISTEN to economic data as well as see it. Historical data was presented to contextualise current market movements in an immersive data experience.
Average time on page for this piece was an extraordinary nine minutes on tens of thousands of views – for a markets explainer! This was one part of the evidence that this new method of presenting data was a hit with readers – the other was the comments that readers posted, notably
“I’m not an expert and cannot comment on the substance here but would just like to say that this was an absolutely *first rate* article. It’s taken a tricky concept and explained it well and simply to a layman; I actually learned something.”
This was exactly the intended goal of the project – to take a concept that not many people are familiar with and open it up to a wider audience.
This innovative project used a range of technologies, the most novel of which related to its use of sound. It used midi-sounds-react (which leverages webaudiofont) to generate sounds that conincide with visuals.
These visualisations were written with a React library that wraps d3.
On the backend to get the US Treasury data, there’s a Github Action script that runs daily and pulls the latest numbers down and puts them into an S3 bucket
What was the hardest part of this project?
Using a combination of new technologies and creating a way that makes it easy for us to deploy across all of our platforms – including the interactive story featured in this nomination, but also reusable components that could be dropped into any FT story. This is a particularly important point — with the effort involved in producing a one-off interactive story, it’s great to have a reusable solution that can be used in future breaking news stories too!
What can others learn from this project?
That there is always another way of presenting information! While there has been an explosion in data visualisation in recent years, we are still on the frontier in terms of understanding the full range of methods that can be used for communicating data. Sound as a medium for data has barely been explored by news organisations, yet offers a compelling reason for further exploration – it requires no screen! This makes sound a great potential medium to take data where it really goes – into podcasts and smart speakers, for example.