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 […]

Why technology matters: It’s about reporting

Posted by on Jan 11, 2010 in Blog, CAR, programming, theory, web | No Comments

“Figure out what you want to do, and get really good at it.”  That’s been the overarching advice I’ve heard in the past few weeks, as I seek to understand where I might fit in the “new media” world.  It all sounds fine, although the more I meet interesting people who’ve been looking at data […]

Importance of combining data analysis with context (reflections on readings from week two)

“Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions,” Edward Tufte, Visual Explanations This chapter gave practical examples of something I’ve been saying from almost the first day of my data analysis journey — that it’s absolutely fundamental that the decisions behind the analysis are shown to the reader/user.  Data’s never perfect, and if […]