Dataviz – Class 1 Notes

Tues 2/21 Class: Welcome!

I. Welcome! An Introduction to using data visualization to tell stories.
– Welcome presentation

– Let’s look at a few more dataviz examples.

II. Class Blog, Twitter hashtag
Most of the assignments will be filed by embedding widget code into the class blog at And you have an account! Walkthrough of how it works.

IIIi. Exercise: And now for a little magic. Introduce yourself through data!

1. Open this URL. How did that data get in there? Let’s find out together.

2. Google yourself and find an image that is publicly available on the web. Right-click the image and get the URL.

8. Go to this Google spreadsheet and fill out your info. Put your image URL into the correct column, and put this code around it:

     <img src=”YOURURLHERE” width=”200″ />

(Note: type this in, don’t copy and paste from this page).

9. Take a look at this URL or the home page to see class data populating in real time.

Congrats! You Participated in a Data Visualization
You not only introduced yourself to the class, but you participated in your very first interactive data-driven visualization. The data is all in a Google spreadsheet, and some free Javascript and JQuery code called Tabletop.js that we will use in a future class pulls all of that data into a web page. Try changing any of your information and you will see that the public web roster updates in real time.

IV. Excel

We will go through some basic features of Excel, and formulas.

  • Adding information as data
  • Add a formula
  • Columns and rows.
  • Formula: using the equal sign for functions. Basic math.
  • Sum columns or rows.
  • Select an area.
  • Format cells to change cell type (text, number).
  • Making charts in Excel.
  • Common formulas:  adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, summing.
  • CSV format versus native Excel format.
  • Sorting.
  • Filtering.

VI. Putting it into practice

  • Bridges across the country are badly in need of repair, and it can literally be a life or death issue. Here’s more about that.
  • Download and unzip this data set of 51,000 bridges in New York State. bridges_blanksremoved.csv
  • Open it in Excel. Scroll right until you find the column “critfrac” which stands for critical fracture. A y12 or y24 means outdated design, so a single solid hit can bring the entire bridge down.

Assignment 1: Register for the class blog, fill out this survey. Due before next class.

Assignment 2: To be given Thursday.