Take the Billion Dollar Gram as an example. On the image itself, McCandless included text near his sources to acknowledge “a little visual cheating to make everything fit.” That cheating involved small adjustments to the size of some of the dollar blocks, which means that, as one commenter noted, “The Walmart Profits and the Russian defence budget are about $11 [billion]. But one is clearly smaller than the other. What gives?”

Another commenter wrote that the image was “rubbish” because of the visual cheating. (Fifteen minutes later the same person posted another comment saying, “On reflection, ‘rubbish’ is a bit strong. Sorry.”)

Anyone who has ever picked up a copy of Harper’s and looked at their Index knows that data can be a powerful way to tell a story. As with the Billion Dollar Gram, the Index uses juxtaposition and comparison to send a message. When that message needs correcting or updating, McCandless benefits from the fact that his work is represented in a single image file.

Many argue that the proper netiquette for using an image is to download it from a Web site and then upload it to your own server, rather than simply inserting the image using the other site’s URL. (That’s what we did above.) But McCandless says he finds it easier to correct an image when people insert it on their sites without downloading it. That enables him to simply replace version 1.0 of the image with 1.1, and in the relevant metadata, and start serving up the corrected version all over the Web.

“If we issue a correction, anyone who had replicated the image and is hosting it off our server automatically changes [to the new version],” he says. “So we can continually change and edit images.”

McCandless also includes an element of crowdsourcing in his work. When he posts a new image on his site, he often includes a call to his readers for additional or corrected data, or other relevant information. (He also has a page where he asks people to help with specific projects.) The principle is that McCandless doesn’t publish once and then move on. His images are constantly evolving.

“I’m feel like I need other people’s help to sharpen up my work, and to bring in new information and to generally be involved in the creative process,” he says. “I don’t feel any article is necessarily ever finished, and I encourage people to contribute and to check my work.”

As far as images of journalism go, that’s a beautiful one.

Correction of the Week

In an embarrassing moment of Freudian word-vomit, we said in Tuesday’s lede that Kal Penn had been ARRESTED when the actor-turned-politico-turned-actor had actually been MUGGED (at least we got it right in the article’s body). Despite Kal’s close association with certain recreational drugs, we have no reason to believe that he is anything but an upstanding citizen. 1000 apologies. — The Huffington Post

Craig Silverman is the editor of RegretTheError.com and the author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. He is also the editorial director of OpenFile.ca and a columnist for the Toronto Star.