Parallelism: Packing information into visualization

Posted by on Jan 30, 2010 in Blog, class, data visualizations, tufte | No Comments

Information is fascinating at many different levels. Show me a simple graph of the components that make up a whole, that tells me something. I’ve found almost anything is more interesting when looked at across time, since it adds another dimension. This also helps with analysis, because outliers or rapid changes are often related to […]

Data Delver: Perry Swanson, The Gazette

Posted by on Jan 29, 2010 in Blog, CAR, data delvers | No Comments

When we think of computer-assisted reporting, large-scale investigative projects are often what first come to mind. There’s no question of the value and impact such endeavors can have on society. But CAR has many other purposes, too. One is bringing evidence to and localizing breaking news, and helping people find out more about their communities. […]

Personal reflection: Tufte’s messing with my head

Posted by on Jan 25, 2010 in Blog, theory, tufte | No Comments

My eyes have been opened by the readings I’ve been doing from Tufte. While I only assigned myself “Visual Explanations,” I’m beginning to feel as if I want to soak up as much of his work as possible. So, I went to my advisor’s office (Rich Gordon), where the walls are lined with what feels […]

Ben Fry on visualizations and Processing

Posted by on Jan 25, 2010 in Blog, class, data visualizations | No Comments

I’ve been working with Processing for a few weeks now.  Some people have asked me when I’m going to start delving into the data set for my final project.  Good question.  The answer is that I’m still trying to get some of these theory and technical tools down.  I’ve been having a lot of fun […]

Keep it subtle, stupid: Differentiating data values in visualizations

Posted by on Jan 25, 2010 in Blog, class, tufte | No Comments

I’m not anything resembling a visual genius, but I like to believe I have enough of an eye that I can tell what works and what doesn’t.  The reason Tufte’s books are so helpful is that they tell me why something works, and give me rules so I know what I can and can’t do.  […]

How to “Group By” in Excel

Posted by on Jan 20, 2010 in Blog, CAR, excel, sql | 2 Comments

Random time-saving Excel tip.  Want to condense a long column to only display unique entries?  Go to the Data menu, select Filter and Advanced Filter.  Voila, a check box labeled “Unique records only”.  Don’t know why I never noticed this before. Or, you know, you could use Group By in SQL.  But no need to […]

Changes in the numbers of students majoring in programming and social sciences

What is a traditional path to programming nowadays? It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot, esp. in the realm of the journalist-programmer. So many people from the older school of journalism came through using databases as tools to help with reporting, not because they took a class in it. That’s certainly encouraging for […]

Committing fact errors in visualizations

Posted by on Jan 18, 2010 in Blog, class, data visualizations, tufte | No Comments

At Medill, there’s a wonderful tradition called the “Medill F.”  Make a factual error of any sort, and you fail the assignment.  The sadistic part of me likes it — a journalist’s job is to tell the truth.  If you miss the mark, you’ve failed the public, and failed at your job for the day. […]

Collaborating with computers to parse “big data”

Posted by on Jan 18, 2010 in Blog, CAR, sql, theory, web | No Comments

Picture it: You’ve been given a new story assignment, and you have to leave for the interview in five minutes. You’ve got to have enough background to ask the right questions, but there’s no time to do research.  Somehow pulling that all-nighter on an English term paper in college seems like a cakewalk. Luckily, you’re […]

Data Delver: Ted Mellnik, Charlotte Observer database editor

Computer-assisted reporting is important because of its potential for reporting and analysis.  Visualization is important to present the information to readers. They both fall under the responsibilities of Ted Mellnik, database editor at the Charlotte Observer. His passion for data is as clear from a conversation with him as it is from his work.  Combine […]