With Patchwork Balkan, Jefferson Institute created an online portal to generate embeddable data visualizations about the Balkans. The project included tools enabling registered users to upload new datasets and to create visual data displays, and it matched the panoply of information with weekly reporting from data journalists in Balkan communities.
Public discourse on the Balkans often is passionate, but it rarely is well informed. Stereotypes and anecdotes dominate, rather than hard data. Deep local knowledge exists on the state of the Balkans, its peoples, and its frontier regions. However, public access to this information has been limited, and the data has not been presented in a visual format that aids identification of positive trends or emerging challenges. Additionally, social scientists and hard scientists alike have lacked mechanisms to provide citizen scientists with intuitive direct access to their Balkan research, for popular self-learning, and for social sharing of those lessons.
By collecting, compiling, and presenting quantitative and qualitative comparative data – and making it publicly available online through interactive visualizations – Patchwork Balkan expanded the knowledge base and understanding of local and international stakeholders about the true condition of the Balkans and helped better place the region’s changing context over time.