This is a course in finding and telling visual stories from data. We will cover fundamental principles of data analysis and visual presentation, chart types and when to use them, and how to acquire, process and “interview” data. We will make interactive and static charts and maps using free software. There will be some coding, but no prior experience is required. The emphasis is on gaining practical skills that students can apply in a newsroom setting.
We will meet in 209/Greenhouse on Fridays from 9.30am - 12.30pm. Your instructor, Peter Aldhous, will maintain office hours in B1 from 1.30pm - 5.00pm, following each class. You are encouraged to arrange appointments to discuss your work.
Class time will also be scheduled for each of you to critique and lead class discussion of a recently published news graphic/interactive.
Categorical and continuous variables; basic operations for interviewing a dataset; sampling and margins of error; plotting and summarizing distributions; choosing bins for your data; basic newsroom math; correlation and its pitfalls; exploring differences between groups; scatter plots and box plots.
Encoding data using visual cues; choosing chart types to show comparisons, composition (parts of the whole) and connections; using color effectively; using chart furniture, minimizing chart junk and highlighting the story; avoiding pitfalls; good practice, including for interactive graphics.
We will use Tableau Public to explore and visualize World Bank data on neonatal deaths across the globe, creating an interactive online dashboard.
We will explore how to use GitHub for version control of a project, before you pitch ideas for your final projects.
Data search and download tricks, including Table2Clipboard and DownThemAll! Firefox plugins; manipulating urls and using APIs to acquire data; scraping data from the web with Import.io; cleaning data with Open Refine; converting data between different formats using Mr. Data Converter.
You will obtain and process World Bank data on life expectancy and GDP per capita for the world’s nations from the web, and then create a Tableau visualization inspired by this Gapminder video.
Making charts with the ggplot2 R package.
Basic mapping principles: projections, geocoding, geodata formats; approaches to putting data onto maps, including choropleth maps, scaled symbols, hexagonal binning and cartograms.
We will use QGIS to make a multi-layered map. We will also learn how to use QGIS and its plugins to process geodata.
We will use CARTO to create interactive online maps.
Further reading/viewing will be recommended to support weekly class material.
Unexcused absence from two classes will drop you one letter grade; a third unexcused absence will result in an F. Excused absences will be permitted only in extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of the reason for an absence, students will be responsible for any assignments due and for learning material covered in class.
Class participation, weekly assignments: 45%
Final project: 45%
Students must turn off the ringers on their cell phones before class begins. Students may not check e-mail, social media sites or other websites during lecture portions of class or while working on class exercises.
The high academic standard at the University of California, Berkeley, is reflected in each degree that is awarded. As a result, it is up to every student to maintain this high standard by ensuring that all academic work reflects his/her own ideas or properly attributes the ideas to the original sources.
These are some basic expectations of students with regards to academic integrity:
Any work submitted should be your own individual thoughts, and should not have been submitted for credit in another course unless you have prior written permission to re-use it in this course from this instructor.
All assignments must use “proper attribution,” meaning that you have identified the original source of words or ideas that you reproduce or use in your assignment. This includes drafts and homework assignments!
If you are unclear about expectations, ask your instructor.
If you need disability-related accommodations in this class, if you have emergency medical information you wish to share with the instructor, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform the instructor as soon as possible by seeing him after class or making an appointment to visit during office hours. If you are not currently listed with DSP (Disabled Students’ Program) but believe that you could benefit from their support, you may apply online.