All posts by Amanda Hickman

Spreadsheet Walkthrough

Spreadsheet Skills

This is not quite what we did in class, but close.

Google tracks searches for flu-related terms. Start at — it is worth reading up on how they produce this data so you have a sense of the limitations of it, but we’re just going to play with it.

Using formulas

Pay attention to the screen. Look at what happens when you hover, etc.

Review of Spreadsheeting skills with Flu data
-sorting to find max and min
-data types (text, number, location, date, etc.)
-what is a formula and a function, what’s the difference? choosing cells

-use a function to find the mean, median and range: look at how mean and median differ.

-using functions, Max, Min, Average, Median, Unique, Countif, Match, If

Walk Through

  1. Download the world historical flu trends
  2. What is this data? (comma separated)
  3. Paste into spreadsheet? Use Data > Text to Columns to separate data into columns according to a delimiter
  4. In which week did which country had the most flu searches?
    =Match(criterion, range, 0)
    =Indirect(“A”&cell) to get date or re-order columns
  5. How much more did that country search for flu in that week than average?
  6. Order the countries by most flu searches (SUM…choose arbitrary 2012-13 to capture searches from all countries, Transpose countries-values to make a quick bar chart)

Homework (Due Feb 7-14)

Homework Week 1 (Due Feb 7)

Since we got a late start and you don’t have a full week, I spread out the homework some.

Send to me by 5 PM on Thursday:

URLs for three data sets that interest you. Use the subject “Homework
Week 1” and I’ll definitely see it.

By 9:30 AM Friday

Install Tabula If you get an error like “Tableau is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash,” the solution to is not at all intuitive: You have to Change your Privacy and Security settings to allow applications downloaded from “Anywhere” — it’s on the “general” tab.

Read Cairo: The Functional Art, Reading part 1: pages 25-31, 36-44, on thinking through a visualization as a tool for the reader; what graphical form best serves the goal? On e-reserve (access details on the syllabus)

Skim and

Due 5 PM Monday:

Write a short blog post that describes the provenance of each of your three data sets data (who maintains it?), where the data can be found (include a link) and in less than 200 words each, explain why the data is interesting.

Due Feb 14:

Register for a Magellan account on CartoDB (use to get the discount)

Make sure Firefox is installed on your computer with the Web Developer Toolbar extension.

Begin a scrapbook on WordPress, Tumblr, Pinterest or some other
aggregation service. Send me the URL.

A Year of Gun Deaths

The Gun Control Debate Overlooks Two-Thirds of Gun Deaths

After the Newtown shootings, Slate started keeping a database of gun-related deaths and writing about them. The project was an interesting exercise (is, I should say — they haven’t given up) in trying to capture the full picture of a story. What they found was something interesting: that if you follow news reports you see a very different picture of gun deaths than if you follow causes of death from inside the CDC.

They also wrote about what they learned from the process.