Our journey started with a real revolution. Farhan Mustafa worked as a data journalist and producer at Al Jazeera English during the Arab Spring. He was on the ground during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. He heard rumors on where other protests where happening, and was scrambling to find trusted data to verify these claims. He desperately wanted to quickly tweet a crucial insight along with a chart to back it up to respond in-the-moment, but the process instead took hours. Meanwhile, real-time mobile sharing had exploded on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It was easy to share a picture, text or video at the speed of life, but not a smart, visual insight from data.
Our co-founders all had similar frustrations around exploring and sharing our thoughts. Akbar Dawood, a former investment banker and trader, craved a mobile tool to dig through cool data with on his way home. Kyle Suess is an engineer and data scientist who was obsessed early on with quantifying the “MJ v. LeBron” debate. Juan Castrence is a UX designer and artist who wanted to explore and visualize cultural trends.
As the 2016 elections progressed, an enormous challenge emerged around misinformation and hateful social media conversations. We channeled our personal frustrations into helping people drive better learning experiences and conversations through data and insights. We created Grafiti to put facts into people’s hands, and make it easy to inject them into conversations everywhere.
A few data points to consider:
- 4% of Americans have a lot of trust in content on social media (Pew Research)
- 85% of Americans get their news from mobile devices. (Pew Research)
- And only 32% of Americans actually trust the media. (Gallup)
Social media has become a place for misinformation, often more than real information. Facts, knowledge sharing, and civil discourse have given way to alternative facts, truthiness and trolling. We increasingly crave information in real time, wherever we are. With so much noise and now national consequences, our conversations and the truth are suffering.
At the root of this though is the very simple nature of disagreement. Who hasn’t had an argument online? When social conversations quickly digress to name-calling and fake news accusations, we need tools that increase access to better information from all sides of an issue, enabling better communication around interests that impact our lives — be it politics, news, culture, sports or stocks. People debate passionately everyday, and we believe that there’s a smarter, more productive way to do that using better information. We use data from trusted sources on all sides to help people explore facts, trends, comparisons and insights, across topics they care about — and move conversations forward.
In the words of Jon Stewart, “The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. If you smell something, say something.” Grafiti is here to help you say something.
Our mission is to drive better, more helpful conversations. We’re creating a unique data storytelling tool (web and iOS) that empowers users to access data from a variety of trusted sources, and quickly create sharable, visual stories from their insights. We’re working with our partners — journalists, media organizations, non-profits, universities, companies and consumer apps — to test our product; collect amazing data; and create faster, better content creation platforms.
The amount of insights available to consumers has exploded over the last few years — from open local data to consumer apps to connected devices, from every part of our lives. Yet there aren’t tools that let everyday people get insights from their own data — whether it’s about their favorite topics in the news, or from their own fitness or finance apps — in a single place. It’s also mashing this data together that makes personal storytelling more interesting. What if you could explore how your personal habits change based on how many tweets you obsess, or #resist, over? Data analytics tools do wonders for companies to mine petabytes of data for insights. Imagine what these tools could do for everyday people, with information on topics they care about. There are plenty of tools for sharing selfies, but not enough to help us share what we learn.
We want you to Post, Tweet, Chat, Snap, Insta insights. We want you to express your thoughts visually, with real facts that you trust. We want to change the way you have conversations on the things that matter the most to you.
Our success depends on creating an experience and a tool that helps people learn about topics they’re passionate about, and empowers them to create unique insights. That’s why we believe it’s the perfect time for Matter’s focus on human-centered product design and media experimentation to help us create smarter, more meaningful social media conversations. We’re excited to be on this journey, and we hope you join us!