Christopher Möller of webkid on interactive visualisations

Category: Future heads

© webkid

© webkid

© webkid

After finishing their media informatics studies at HTW Berlin in 2014, Christopher Möller and Moritz Klack founded webkid GmbH. Now they work with clients such as daily newspaper “Berliner Morgenpost” to create interactive visualisations. In our interview, data journalist and developer Christopher Möller tells Projekt Zukunft about the benefits of interactive formats and spills the beans on how webkid get their hands on visualisation data.

Mr Möller, print media and TV have been using forms of presentation such as tables, photos or charts for decades. You specialise in interactive online maps and visualisations. Comparatively speaking, this is new ground when it comes to covering global events. What distinguishes interactive visualisations from conventional static images?

Interactive journalism makes it possible for journalists to provide the user with information in a more targeted and individualised way. Examples where this can be done would be location searches in interactive maps or filters in diagrams.

Visualisations enable readers to get the big picture and at the same time compile their own individual story, for example in terms of what the situation is like where they live. In local journalism, in particular, visualisations help tell stories up close and in greater detail than otherwise possible.

In addition, by using interactive formats we can include readers in our stories. For example, we asked our readers to what degree they think the former inner-German border still exists in people’s minds, or when they think BER airport will finally be opened.

Among other projects, webkid has developed an interactive visualisation of bicycle lanes in Berlin for Morgenpost. For Tageszeitung you documented refugee flows and party donations for Die Welt. Most recently, Neue Zürcher Zeitung commissioned you to develop visualisations surrounding the EURO 2016. Are there any topics you prefer working on?

We don’t usually pre-select topics – if there's something that catches our attention we will work on it. This year, we have put a special focus on the refugee issue which led to our collaboration with daily newspaper taz, among other things. 

Are there any other important clients and who do you work with in Berlin, in particular?

In the newspaper sector in Berlin, we collaborate closely with Berliner Morgenpost. In addition to that, we have several other clients such as Correctiv, a non-profit research organisation, who we have worked with on several visualisation projects. Most of our clients are based in Berlin, which has put us in a great position to build up close partnerships.

Berlin has increased its efforts to make data openly accessible. At the same time, more and more relevant data are collected by an increasing amount of sensors. Are you looking forward to receiving fresh data material in the near future?

Unfortunately, we never exactly know which data will be published and when, which is why we are rather ambivalent about that. Nevertheless, we are pretty excited to see which data we will be able to mould into stories in the future.

Are there any data sources you prefer using? And do you have any particular requests in terms of data availability?

We receive data from various sources. These sources include websites, for example. We use code to extract data from these websites. In addition to that, we use data portals or inquiries to obtain data. One thing that I would like to see is for data to be made available in higher resolutions. Many data sets often lack the granularity which is a problem when it comes to visualisations. As a result, we can’t use these data for our stories.

You are an advocate for open data yourself. What is your motivation? 

We believe that data that are of public interest should be made freely available to the public. In many parts of Germany there are open data movement campaigning to achieve this goal. Naturally, we also have a personal interest in data being openly available as we use these data in our daily work.


Tanja Mühlhans

Leitung Kreativ- und Medienwirtschaft, Digitalwirtschaft, Projekt Zukunft