Recently I searched for the name of my current project, “Data for Radicals,” and through that magic we know as Serendipity on the Internet, up popped: Ten Rules for Radicals by none other than Carl Malamud.  To be honest, before I read “Ten Rules for Radicals,” all I knew about Carl was that my friends who were investigative journalists — particularly those who did the deep data and document dives through FOIA and other means — talked about him in hushed tones of awe. Reading the title, I could not help but think that the essay, originally an address to the WWW2010 conference, represented one of those strange messages that happen between people of ideas, even if those people are[…]

Visual approaches to data are great — they can allow us to grasp complex issues at a glance, just the way this map from Clear Health Costs shows us the dramatic differences between what different hospitals charge for the same procedure. But sometimes a simple, sortable and searchable table of data is all that’s really needed.  Using  code written by Chris L. Keller, I was able to create this sortable, searchable table of law enforcement agencies in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, along with the populations they serve, and how many full-time officers per capita there are. As always, click on any image in this blog to see it full size.  I leave helpful annotations in the illustrations to these tutorials —[…]

  Sortable, searchable table of law enforcement agencies, Middlesex County, MA Tabletop.js is a Javascript library that lets you use Google spreadsheets as the data source for web apps.  It’s pretty neat — especially since we know there are so many simple but useful web and mobile apps we can create where setting up a full-on database is overkill.  What if you want to make a sortable, searchable list of craft breweries?  Or a schedule for a music festival?  Do you really have to bust out MySQL for that? Well, with Tabletop.js, you don’t.  The other great thing about using Tabletop.js is that a lot more people know how to use a Google spreadsheet than know how to enter records[…]

  [9/15/14: REPAIRED!  This tutorial was broken because a file used (tabletop.js) needed to be updated to the newest version.  It works now.  Enjoy! — LW] Gay marriage became legal today in Rhode Island, making marriage equality the law of the land in all of New England. The Providence Journal published a detailed timeline of GLBT history in the state — but it’s text-only.  On this happy day, what could we do to spiff things up a little?  I decided to give the Projo’s timeline a little celebratory finery by creating a vertical, interactive timeline using Timeline.js.  Check it out. Now I will show you how to do it!

I first heard the word “Pressthink” from NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, who began a blog of the same name. I’m not sure I ever heard Jay define the term “pressthink,” but I’ll try: Pressthink:  A set of shared, embedded and often unspoken notions that guide the actions of a group of people creating news media for public consumption. In otherwords, the “pressthink” of a publication and the people who work at it help those people decide what is good work, or bad work; what’s worth doing and not doing, whether coverage is fair or not.  (Writing that makes me think that pressthink is inherently moral; perhaps it is the moral philosophy of a news organization). When I saw FvckTheMedia,[…]

  [As always, click any image on this blog to make it bigger.] Since I want to write a book on data visualization for beginners, I wanted to know how many words I’d already written here at #D4R.  The book and the blog will be different, of course, but things like The Insanely Illustrated Guide To Your First Data-Driven Tile Mill Map, as well as others, are very likely to appear there.  So it’s good for me to know what I’ve got in terms of source material. These charts are created by a WordPress plugin called Word Stats. The count is good news.  If my book is 40-60,000 words long, I probably need 80K in source material.  But I’m well[…]

Typically, a finished product — whether it’s a simple one or something as sophisticated as “Snow Fall,” the New York Times’ immersive multimedia piece on an avalanche — doesn’t give many indications about how it was made, or what challenges the developer faced in creating it.  An apparently simple site might have taken hours while you might guess that another site took weeks when it took only hours because there were many available open-source tools to start out with that did a lot of the heavy lifting. Looking at the finished product — or a tutorial like my Insanely Illustrated Guide To Your First Data-Driven TileMill Map — doesn’t really give you insight into whether something took a little effort[…]

Just noticed that my recent post — an unsuccessful attempt to test Tabletop.js — messed up the home page here at D4R. Ha! One of the things I like about coding is that the tools we are using are powerful enough to mess things up a little. Mostly our own websites! 🙂  

*Deep breath.*  I live in Watertown.   My two children, my husband and I were not in our neighborhood as the events unfolded, but police conducted house to house searches down the street that I live on.   I am told that our house was briefly surrounded by police, probably because we were not there to open the door for them. I’m holding this entry until after the crisis is over, but I have to say, having data journalism done on the place that I live does not feel good at all.

Earlier today I noticed that Professor Lauren Klein linked to my simple “Texts From Hillary” data visualization which makes use of the New York Times API from her class website for  “STUDIES IN COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE: DATA.”  Here’s part of the class description: Think of your SAT score, all of your Facebook friends, or even your DNA—we live in what’s been called the “age of data,” and yet, the concept of data has a long and complex history, one that dates back to the Enlightenment and arguably even before. This course will thus examine ideas about data—and in particular, ideas about data visualization—through examples of charts and tables, both historical and contemporary, as well as through literature, philosophy, film, and[…]