Data Visualization

for Storytelling and Discovery


Instructor: Alberto Cairo





This resource page features course content from the Knight Center for Journalism in the America's massive open online course (MOOC), titled "Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery." The four-week course, which was powered by Google, took place from June 11 to July 8, 2018. We are now making the content free and available to students who took the course and anyone else who is interested in learning how to create data visualizations to improve their reporting and storytelling.


The course was taught by Alberto Cairo, He created and curated the content for the course, which includes video classes and tutorials, readings, exercises, and more.


The course materials are broken up into four modules:


  • Module 1: Offers an introduction to visualization: what it is, how it works, and what ethical considerations are involved in its design. It also reviews how to prepare data before visualizing it.
  • Module 2: Covers how visualization can be used to explore and discover features that often hide behind data. The video tutorials will show you how to use software tools to import a data set and then visualize it in multiple ways to reveal patterns and exceptions to those patterns.
  • Module 3: Explains how visualization can be used to communicate with the public. The video tutorials show how to use the Google tool Flourish to design static and interactive maps and charts, and then put them together in sequential narratives.
  • Module 4: Provides you with an exercise that will motivate you to apply what you learned from the course materials. Specifically, you’ll be asked to design a visualization based on a topic and datasets of your choice.

As you review this resource page, we encourage you to watch the videos, read the readings, and complete the exercises as time allows. The course materials build off each other, but the videos and readings also act as standalone resources that you can return to over time.


We hope you enjoy the materials and share them with others who are interested in learning more about how to use data visualizations to improve reporting and storytelling. We also encourage you to visit the Google News Initiative’s training site for journalists -- g.co/newstraining. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email us at knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu.



ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami. He’s also the director of the visualization program at UM’s Center for Computational Science. Cairo has been a director of infographics and multimedia at news publications in Spain (El Mundo, 2000-2005) and Brazil (Editora Globo, 2010-2012,) and a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Besides teaching at UM, he works as a freelancer and permanent consultant for companies like Google. He’s the author of the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication.




Introduction to Visualization Principles


Goals

This module offers an introduction to visualization, what it is, how it works, and what ethical considerations are involved in its design. It also teaches how to prepare data before visualizing it, which will be covered in module 2.


Module 1 will cover

  • What data visualization is
  • How visualization may mislead, and how it can tell the truth
  • Data preparation

Videos

1. Introduction

Watch Video


2. What Visualization Is

Watch Video Download PDF


3. Elements of Visualization

Watch Video Download PDF


4. Identifying Encodings

Watch Video Download PDF


5. The Core Principles

Watch Video Download PDF


6. What Comes Next

Watch Video Download PDF



Video TranscriptsDownload


Software Videos

1. Data Cleaning with Excel

Watch Video


2. Excel Pivot Tables

Watch Video 1Watch Video 2



Introduction to Data Wrangler

1. Introduction

2. Wide To Long

3. Cleaning the Data File

4. Adding Header in Wrangler

5. Wrangling

6. Final Thoughts


Files for Wrangler VideosDownload


Readings

1. The Truthful Art, Introduction

2. The Truthful Art, Chapter 3

3. Data Visualization for Human Perception

4. Misleading Visuals

5. Tidy Data

6. Shaping Data with Wrangler





Visualization to Find Stories in Data


Goals

This module covers how visualization can be used to explore and discover features that often hide behind data. The materials will show you how to use software tools that will allow you to import a data set and then visualize it in multiple ways to reveal patterns and exceptions to those patterns.


Module 2 will cover

  • INZight for data exploration
  • Schools in Miami-Dade County
  • Using histograms and seeing summary statistics
  • Scatter plots. Trends and outliers
  • Using maps

Videos

1. Introduction

Watch Video


2. Visualization for Discovery

Watch Video Download PDF


3. Exploring The Data

Watch Video Download PDF


4. Finding Compelling Data

Watch Video Download PDF


5. Making maps with iNZight

Watch Video


Video TranscriptsDownload


INZight Videos

1. Introduction to iNZight


2. iNZight and Loading Data


3. Summary Statistics


4. Reading Histograms and Box Plots


5. Comparing Distributions and Exporting Files


6. Comparing Summary for Subsets and Scatter Plots


7. Coloring by Variable


8. Exploring Correlations


9. Rough Maps with INZight


10. Reminder of Desktop Features


11. Exploring by Sorting Data


12. Creating New Variables


13. Exporting Dataset


14. INZight and Gapminder


Files for INZight VideosDownload



Readings

1. Visual Encoding


2. An Economist Guide to Visualizing Data


3. Visual Encoding


Exercise

Look for an interesting data set in public sources (https://data.worldbank.org/) or any other public source for global, national, or local data), explore it, and write down what interesting features you've find in it. Remember that visualization never gives you answers, but it can suggest what leads to follow, by revealing compelling facts hidden in the data.





Visualization for Communication


Goals

This module explains how visualization can be used to communicate with the public. The video classes will show you how to use a Google tool called Flourish, to design static and interactive maps and charts, and then put them together in sequential narratives.

Module 3 will cover

  • How to choose graphic forms for your data
  • Stories with charts and maps
  • Visual design for communication
  • Software tools: an introduction to this week’s practical videos

  • Videos

    1. Choosing Encoding

    Watch Video Download PDF


    2. The Encoding Hierarchy

    Watch Video Download PDF


    3. Design for Understanding

    Watch Video Download PDF


    4. Words

    Watch Video Download PDF


    Video TranscriptsDownload


    Readings

    1. The Truthful Art, Chapter 5
    2. The visual vocabulary
    3. What to consider when creating maps
    4. Your Friendly Guide to Colors in Data Visualization
    5. Finding the Right Color Palettes for Data Visualizations

    Flourish Videos

    1. Introduction to Flourish
    2. Overview and Templates
    3. Basic World Map
    4. Adding More Maps and Interaction
    5. Animated Scatter Plot
    6. Facet and Stories
    7. County Level Bubble Map
    8. Preparing Data Before Uploading
    9. Diverging Map
    10. More Maps and Plots
    11. Story and End

    Files for Flourish VideosDownload


    Exercise

    1. Take the U.S county data set used in the Flourish tutorials and see whether you can design a compelling visualization (or a series of visualizations, forming a story) based on the data. For instance:

  • Is there a relationship between poverty and obesity? Or between poverty and other variables?
  • Are the results of the 2016 presidential elections related to other variables?

  • Is the percentage of minority population in a county related to voting patterns?
  • You can also focus on a specific state.

  • 2. To design this project you may need to do more than merely visualize data. Try to find papers or articles that may help you make your visual story more solid.


    3. You are not limited to the data file I used in the tutorial. You can look for complementary datasets if you need to.





    Where to Go from Here


    Goals

    This module is focused on designing a visualization based on a topic and data sets of your choice.


    Module 4 will cover

  • What you’ve learned from the course materials and what other resources you can consult to keep learning about visualization.
  • Live Hangout: An Interview with Google News Lab’s Simon Rogers. Watch Video

  • Videos

    1. Books

    Watch Video Download PDF


    2. Resources

    Watch Video Download PDF


    3. Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery: Final Thoughts

    Watch Video


    Video TranscriptsDownload

    Exercise

    Design a personal visualization. Choose any topic, choose a data set, and build a visualization based on it. We can give students ideas ("Does economic growth lead to more CO2 emissions?”) but this should largely be their personal exercise.