School of Data coming to Ottawa!

Zara Rahman - May 22, 2015 in Events

Photo CC-BY, taken by d.neuman. https://flic.kr/p/5DtxaY

Photo CC-BY, taken by d.neuman. https://flic.kr/p/5DtxaY

In a couple of days, the School of Data community will be descending upon Ottawa – first, for our annual Summer Camp, and then to join the International Open Data Conference.

Summer Camp will be the chance for our Class of 2015 fellows to meet the rest of our community, with representation from local instances from all around the world. All in all, with only 30 participants at Summer Camp, we’ll have people from over 20 countries represented! Our new fellows will be learning about School of Data and planning the rest of their fellowships, and representatives from our local instances will be coming together to discuss governance of the School of Data network.

On Thursday and Friday, we’ll be at the Open Data Conference where we’ll have a room for the whole of Thursday. If you’ve had any data-related problems with your projects, any questions or tools you’d like to learn – come and talk to us!

We’ll be running a data clinic on Thursday morning, with people at hand to talk you through any data driven projects you might have or questions you might have, and in the afternoon, we’ll run a short data expedition – a way to get hands on with data. No experience is necessary, and we welcome total newcomers to working with data.

If you don’t have a chance to come and meet us on Thursday at the conference, together with the rest of the Open Knowledge community we’ll be having a meet and greet on Thursday evening at The Brig Pub, 23 York St, from 7.30pm. All welcome – just come by on the night. We’ll be there with fellow Open Knowledge staffers, the School of Data community, and open knowledge advocates from around the world!

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Has the open data movement reached Ecuador yet?

Julio López - May 21, 2015 in Data Blog, Fellowship

The first time I heard about LOTAIP was five years ago at Grupo FARO. LOTAIP is the Transparency and Access to Public Information Law in Ecuador, by its Spanish acronym. This law has been a powerful tool for citizens to access to public information and for government institutions to establish a pro-disclosure culture of releasing information on their websites. But not all is well: delays in response times and bad data formats make getting government information more difficult. I personally have had to digitise scanned PDFs in order to be able to use government data.

Now that the open data movement has gained a worldwide momentum, where is the state of open data in Ecuador?  fit?. Briefly, I will draft some ideas of the state of open government data in Ecuador, covering two topics: government policies on open data and the state of data literacy.

The government policies on open data

Ecuador odi

Ecuador ranked 43 of 97 countries in the 2014 Open Data Index . Many datasets are available online in different topics, including government expenditures, budget, pollutant emissions, legislation and election results. However, this data is not in a standardised format and the level of detail varies between institutions.

 

Yet a national open data policy is taking shape in Ecuador. Last year, the government released two important directives: the National Plan of e-Government 2014-2017 and the Open Data Policy Guide. These two documents define the strategies and principles for the implementation of open government data portals. At the moment, the only existing one has been created as part of the Quito’s Open Government Initiative. This portal is easy to navigate and citizens can find data presented in graphs, maps and tables on many topics, including education, transportation, tourism, security, technology, environment, economic indicators, and health.

datos abiertos quito

The state of data literacy

Releasing data in an open format is only a start. The added value is in the way the data is used to improve the life of citizens is essential. But are Ecuadorians able to use data effectively? There are no specific measures of data literacy but we do have digital literacy statistics.

The 2013 ICTs statistics from the National Institute of Statistics show that digital illiteracy in Ecuador has reduced in recent years to less than 20% (from 29% in 2010). Among the population’s 16 millions, 44% have access to a computer, 51% use mobile phones (16% use smartphones) and 40% have access to internet. In addition, statistics show that Ecuadorians mostly use internet to access to information and for education and learning purposes. Improving these numbers requires not only increasing access to technologies but also simplifying websites navigation and increasing digital skills. In this process, open data portals can play a key role to engage existing and new audiences in data-driven projects.

Globally, civil society organisations and journalists have played a key role to promote the use of open data. In Ecuador, not many civil society organisations and media have worked on specific open data initiatives. One example is Fundapi, an Ecuadorian civil society organisation that supports the work of Open Knowledge locally. They have been organising training and supporting initiatives to increase data literacy in Ecuador. Other initiatives include the Campus Party Ecuador, which is a technology festival that takes place in different countries. Last year, 3.000 people attended to the its fourth edition in Quito, which included a hackaton to use Quito’s open data platform to develop applications on tourism.

8154461796_547b6f002b_hAll of this points to some advances towards an open government data policy in Ecuador.  Yet this process needs to be accompanied by initiatives that increase data literacy among citizens and government organisations and create awareness about the importance and the benefits of open data.

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Improving data literacy in Macedonia

Goran Rizaov - May 19, 2015 in Data Journalism, Fellowship

Unfortunately, data-literacy among macedonian journalists and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representatives is at a pretty low level. Journalists and their editors haven’t realised the potential that data journalism has to drive transparency, reveal corruption and hold government officials to account.

Stuck in their day to day activities, most of the macedonian journalists don’t even bother to try and work with data. They are overwhelmed by the scale and “complexity” of spreadsheets, have low level skills and experience with Excel and lack basic mathematical knowledge. This is absolutely not specific to Macedonian journalists, but is a problem nonetheless.

DSC_1183

Since Freedom of information in Macedonia is guaranteed by law, the journalists and CSO members have the right for free access to information. Besides, the use of FOI requests by journalists and citizen in general is not that frequent. The ones who tried to send FOI requests to Macedonian institutions usually end up with a refusal or unsatisfactory answers.

Consequently, they have limited opportunities to realise the power that data journalism offers in revealing corruption, proving government misuse and informing the public about it in a extraordinary visual and interactive way. Data visualisations can provide great help in the storytelling process, especially when working on highly complex and time consuming investigative stories.

That’s why the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in September 2014 launched the programme on Open Data Civil Society Network in Macedonia, which focuses on the importance of transparency, accountability and open data.

They work with Metamorphosis Foundation, a local CSO tasked with implementing the programme in Macedonia, and collaborate with Open Knowledge from the UK. As part of Open Knowledge’s School of data project, School of Data – Macedonia was established, which now offers trainings, organizes meet-ups and support for everyone who is interested, including journalists, CSO members and citizen in general.

This week we will organise an event to promote our new web site schoolofdata.metamorphosis.org.mk. The UK ambassador in Macedonia, Charles Garrett, will be present. In the near future we’re planning to organize a two-day workshop on open data and datavisualisations with members of Macedonian NGOs. We will teach them how to work with data in Excel and how to use basic online tools for interactive datavisualisations including Piktochart, Infogr.am, Datawrapper, Google Fusion tables, Timewrapper, JSTimeline, etc.

Several other workshops are planned throughout the year with journalists and their editors from newsrooms across Macedonia. And we will stay available to offer online support and counseling.

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Data literacy is about saving lives as well

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub - May 19, 2015 in Data Blog, Fellowship

Sanitarians from Region 8 Philippines explore mobile-based data collection tool.

Sanitarians from Region 8 Philippines explore mobile-based data collection tool.

Try to search for “Data Literacy in the Philippines” online and search results will show academic literacy, national statistics, accountability, good governance. Data literacy is rarely discussed as is. But search for the word data or data management or statistics, and you will have more than 50 search pages. So data is practiced in the Philippines but the concept of data literacy has yet to be embraced. The government have already ventured into Open Data in partnership with different organizations, to improve good governance and accountability. But so far there has not been any formal survey or assessment of the data literacy of Filipinos.

97,5% of literacy rate, 36% of internet penetration

In 2013, literacy rate rose up to 97.5% according to our National Statistics Office, meaning a huge number of people can read, write, and has access to educational facilities. This as well mean that we have access to venues where we can create and communicate data to other people, may it be through paper-based formats, smartphones, laptops etc. Nonethless, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), 36% of the population of the Philippines had internet access in 2013. Sometimes the first step of a training is about making sure that everybody has an email address! So the first challenge on data literacy in the Philippines is to determine what the needs are in terms of data literacy, before trying to advocate it.

In 2013, when the supertyphoon Haiyan stroke the country, more than a hundred civil society and governmental agencies came to the Philippines to provide aid to more than 4 million Filipinos affected. A river of data started flowing from all directions with no specific national agency handling data and information management. This event triggered the creation of the Open Data Philippines Action Plan (ODPAP) that the Philippine government is now implementing, as one of the founding members of the Open Government Program (OGP). But a national survey on data literacy will have to be conducted in order to strategically implement the objectives of the ODPAP. Further down the line, any plan of extending the ODPAP will have to include software and hardware support especially for local government agencies.

Data as part of the emergency response

In my work as an Information Manager of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, I had to coordinate with different organizations and offices to consolidate data and provide a comprehensive needs and gaps analysis to support response. Data was openly coming from non-governmental organizations (NGO), but crucial data from communities and local government agencies was missing. And even if the data was available, they were keeping on paper-based records and had no idea how helpful it was to responders.

Displaced population data posted on community boards in Haiyan-affected areas.

Displaced population data posted on community boards in Haiyan-affected areas.

A year after Haiyan, as a part of UNICEF, I made attempts to support local government staff in improving their understanding of data and information management, specifically on water and sanitation. We had trainings on managing WASH in emergencies, but only a one-hour session on Information Management was included. Whenever I facilitate these sessions, I always stress how important and life-saving the data that they have is for coordinators and responders. Unfortunately, data management is not an important concept when it comes to local disaster risk reduction and management (LDRRM) plans.

Consequently, the fellowship with School of Data is an occasion for me to introduce community-based data management skills training on WASH-related data that can be used for LDRRM plans, targeting disaster high risk areas. As a fellow, I aspire to promote data appreciation among local government staff responsible for WASH and disaster risk reduction, and build on this appreciation by providing training. The use of Open Data should also be promoted in risk-informed decision-making especially in the communities most vulnerable to disasters.

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How can we improve Ghana Government Services?

david Selassie Opoku - May 18, 2015 in Fellowship, Impact

Independence_Square,_Accra,_Ghana

Since returning back to Ghana after more than eight years away, I have heard many recollections from family, friends and strangers about their exhausting experiences visiting government institutions and agencies for various services. Whether it is following a government-given mandate to move from handwritten passports by a given date, renewing an almost-out-of-date driver license or obtaining a work permit for some people seeking to work honestly.

Ideally government institutions will have structures in place to encourage improved performance. However in many emerging nations where government resources are stretched or inadequate, such systems are not instituted even when they exist.  In such a situation, what role can ordinary citizens and non-government institutions play? I have thought about things I can do as an individual to make these experiences better and on many occasions, nothing tangible has occurred. Many of these government agencies struggle to respond to their customers, tax-paying citizens and residents. From what I can see, there are two main factors on which this issue persists:

  1. Government agencies have no incentive to improve the standards of the services they are offering
  2. Users of government services have no collective and reliable information to highlight the poor quality of service provided by such institutions

 

Proposal

rating_stars

What if there was a way to incentivize these institutions openly to improve the quality of services they offer? What if users of these services, journalists and government had a reliable resource that easily and consistently showed the performance of agencies we rely on for keys services? Can we build a data-driven tool or service that consolidates these deficiencies together to encourage and demand change? I believe we can!

Creating a crowd-sourced Government Agency Rating system could be one avenue to tackling this. Such a system will produce a rating based on selected factors that reflect the quality of services of these institutions. Factors could include quality of website, ease of payment, presence of online service and duration of service. Ideally, data about these factors will be sourced from a large pool of individuals who use these services for various reasons. Eventually, this data could be collated into an interactive visualization open for public use.

 

Challenges

The goal of this project will be to provide access to data about government services to stakeholders. They will then have a reference point to discuss the performance of any service and demand improvements where needed. This means that the system must:

  • Identify the main stakeholders and how they will use such a system on a regular basis
  • Create a structure to efficiently collect data
  • Demonstrate the credibility of the rating system
  • Encourage the use of the system through open access and visualization
  • Train stakeholders on how to effectively use such a system for maximum impact

 

freedom_and_justice

Ghana as an emerging nation is still learning ways to utilize open data to drive civic and social policies and decisions. Aside creating the relevant infrastructure on which data literacy and engagement can thrive, we must create a culture where individuals and organizations are invested in utilizing and providing data. I believe starting with a simple data-driven approach that targets a major pain point for many Ghanaians creates an opportunity to understand the Open Data landscape while also showing stakeholders the power of demanding and driving a more Open Data culture. I believe the Government Agency Rating system could be a start in fostering this.

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Quick tip: copy every item from a multi-page list

Jérémie Poiroux - May 18, 2015 in HowTo, Scraping

A very simple but useful trick !

The multipage lists

On the web, many websites publish lists over multiple pages. They allow for better browsing and quicker loading. But that makes copying them a hassle.

For this tutorial we will use the website Allflicks US. You will find on the homepage 7,365 movies spread over 295 pages (at the time of writing). 25 movies are shown on each page. Have fun copying that! Scraping them would not be that hard, but there is an easier way.

image alt text

Allflicks.net

Word of warning

  • The trick only works with lists which have a menu to select the number of items being shown, along with previous and next buttons.

  • This trick works very well with average-sized lists: around 20,000 items. Over that number, your computer may freeze, as did mine when trying to load a 40,000 item list. A workaround can be found at the end of this tutorial.

‘Inspect Element’

The idea is to display all the 7,365 listed movies on a single page. To do so, right click the selector for the number of displayed items, and choose ‘Inspect Element’.

image alt text

Inspect Element

Once the code editor of your browser has opened, click on the small arrow at the right of the highlighted line. You should see the screen below:

The initial source code

What we want to change is the ‘value=100’. Edit it with a double click and replace 100 by 7365. If you feel it necessary, you can change the text of the button itself by modifying the other ‘100’, between the option tags. Any text put there will appear directly on the page::

The new source code

You now only have to select this button to make all the movies appear on a single page !

/!\ Be sure not to have this button selected before modifying it: if you modify the ‘value=100’ button, make sure that you were originally on the ‘value=25’ button or any other.

/!\ It might take a few seconds to load.

Copy/paste

When you have the whole list on a single page, just copy and paste it where you want (Excel, Google Spreadsheet). It might take some time here as well.

We’re done!

image alt text

How not to freeze your computer

For bigger lists, you can split the work by limiting the number of items shown on the page: previous and next buttons still work! So a 80,000 list can be copied in 4 chucks of 20,000 using the ‘next’ button.

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‘Where has this been!?’ Open Data Day in Benin, Nigeria.

Nkechi Okwuone - May 15, 2015 in Community, Data for CSOs, Events, Fellowship

In the city of Benin, located in the Edo State of Nigeria, the 21st of February was a memorable day. At the occasion of the worldwide Open Data Day, the first ever open data hackathon of the city took place, alongside another event called Open Data party .

This event, organised by SabiHub, was supported by Open Knowledge, the Ministry of Agriculture and Edo Open Data.  The event focused on the agriculture sector, looking at the challenges and engaging citizens to imagine data driven solutions using the available Agriculture datasets from the state’s open data portal. 50 participants were expected but over 90 participants joined us: Civil society organisations, NGOs, journalism Students, government officials and other open data enthusiasts.

As we kickstarted the 6-hour long event, the place was buzzing with excitement. 6 facilitators guided the participants through an adventure about data around the world, wrangling and making sense of numbers. Participants welcomed the knowledge with frowns, questions, excitement, and ‘where has this been’s!

ayotraining

 

Lunch and tea break were welcomed to calm the minds. We then introduced them to a list of challenges the agriculture sector was facing, and asked them to wrangle and create data-driven solutions with those challenges in mind. They broke out into groups and hacked for 3 hours.

What was the outcome? Many ideas sprung up, from bridging the information gap between famers and the market, to easier location of agricultural facilities and more. A common challenge in the groups was the lack of data skills to solve the problems idendified! Read more at #ODDBenin15

groups

Although Edo state is the first government in Nigeria to launch an open data portal since 2013, low data literacy among potential reusers is still a problem that keeps the initiative from reaching its full potential. The economic benefits of Open data has yet to be harnessed. The Edo State joined forces with organizations like BudgIT, Connected development in spreading the skills necessary to visualize government budget, track government spending and train civil society organisations and journalists while also evangelizing the use of data in schools.

With a population of over 170 millions, more has to be done to reach out to CSOs, entrepreneurs, NGOs, journalists. This work will be done thanks to School of Data and other organizations who continuously support the campaign for data literacy, active citizen engagement, fact-driven stories and advocacy, job creation and a lot more. We are not where we want to be, but things have definitely improved in the past years. I’m optimistic that the 2015 School of Data fellowship will drive us steps ahead towards a more literate and informed society.

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Data literacy in Costa Rica

Camila Salazar - May 14, 2015 in Data Blog, Data Journalism, Fellowship

OGPSanJoseAre the audiences in Costa Rica ready to read numbers? Do they know how to efficiently use data?  Those are valid questions in a context where the use of open -and big- data has gained power worldwide, with different initiatives promoting the use of information to improve daily life.

There are no exact measures of the data literacy in Costa Rica, but the fact is we have been producing data for thousands of years and using it to tell stories, record history and making decisions.  More recently, new technologies have emerged and they are used more intensely by citizens.  For example, according to the National Household Survey of 2014, from the National Institute of Statistics, 58,7% of the population had access to the internet in 2014 (55% of households), and nearly half of them (44%) accessed the internet through mobile devices.  In comparison, in 2000 only 10% of the households had internet.  Additionally, a lot of public institutions, universities, enterprises, the government and even citizens are constantly creating and exchanging information.

So we have the data, the technology, but we need the ability to put those two together to create something useful.  The question we need to answer is how can we encourage and teach citizens towards data-driven-decision making?

Some initiatives have been addressing this issue in the past years. Media and journalism have also started to use data as a primary source of information to tell stories. Three of the most important media in the country have data driven journalism units that have created journalistic stories that caused impact and involvement of the audience and even public authorities, for example: government spending in rentals, the hidden cost of gasoline, the returns of education, factchecking the political candidates, an analysis of the national database of 113 years of registered births, among others.

opendatadaycr2Besides, there are civil society organizations like Abriendo Datos, that have started to build a data community in Costa Rica, that creates awareness of the importance of public information.  Another practical example: Costa Rica is one of the countries with more active users in Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation app, that basically uses data to help drivers arrive to their destinations.  The app is so popular that the Minister of Transportation partnered with Waze to exchange information about traffic or road closures, to help both the traffic police and drivers.  This shows that people found a way to use data – for example let drivers know where’s an accident- and technology to improve their daily lives.  They learned how to deal with  the problem of driving in Costa Rica using data.

In addition Costa Rica’s government joined the Open Government initiative in 2012, to improve access to data in public institutions.  Nevertheless the process has been slow and only a few institutions have made real efforts to make information available and easy to obtain.    For example, the country ranked first in the access of National Statistics, in the latest Open Data Index, but overall Costa Rica got a score of 38%.

opendatadayCRThis shows that there are challenges ahead regarding the access to public information and lack of data literacy in some of the public institutions that produce big amounts of data.  A lot of information of this entities is still collected in paper and not in digital formats, and it’s not centralized.  So if you want to access this information you have to go to different offices, look for the papers and star digitizing it by yourself, which is a slow, tedious process.  In other cases, I personally have experienced that institutions treat you in a different way when you ask for public information if you work in a media organisation in comparison if you ask for the data as a citizen or a university student.  There is also a delay in response times, even though the law establishes a maximum of 10 days to give the information.

We have to address this and other issues, but in order to do that we have to make people aware of the importance of public data.  I’ve found that the best way to start is to be persistent, continuously ask for information, keep creating data driven contents and keep a constant exchange with audiences, since data literacy is a process in the making in which involvement and community is necessary.

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Brazilian journalists immerse themselves in the world of data

Marco Túlio Pires - May 14, 2015 in Data Journalism

A selected groups of Journalists, students of public universities and media professionals in Brazil started a no-return journey into the world of data. Escola de Dados — that’s how we call School of Data in the biggest country in Latin America — has partnered up with Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and Universidade de São Paulo (USP), three major Brazilian public universities, to offer a 30 hours, 5 days, hands-on and super intensive, Introduction to Data Journalism course.

The 100% free and on site training sessions happened in the November and December 2014 and in April 2015. They were possible thanks to the Partnership for Open Data, a program to stimulate open data initiatives in developing countries, funded by The World Bank and coordinated by Open Knowledge and Open Data Institute.

In total, 90 students, independent journalists and professionals from major media outlets from 12 different cities in Brazil were brought together by a tough selection process. More than 500 candidates from all over the country applied to Escola de Dados’ data journalism course.

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What is this thing called data journalism?

In the first day students discussed what  data journalism is all about. From building multidisciplinary teams to borrowing skills from other areas (and discussing the business case for data journalism, of course), the lesson showcased many stories and media outlets in the world that are pushing the boundaries of journalism, investigative reporting, data analysis, data visualization and storytelling in new platforms and formats. Students reported on their core skills and their expectations for the course and formed teams to work on data stories during the week.

Here are the resources used in the first day:

Slides – Introduction to Data Journalism

Online & Offline: Where do I find (open) data? Should I clean it? How?

The second day was all about means to get data, online or offline and, once in our hands, how to clean it if needed. Students learned how to tap the powerful features of search engines to find hidden documents, narrow down searches and explore the deep web. They also talked about Brazil’s Freedom of Information Law, which allows anyone to request government data in an open format. In the last part students learned how to use Open Refine, an open source tool with wonderful tools to clean messy data.

Here are the resources used in second day:

Slides – Advanced search

Finding stories in data: asking the right questions in a different type of interview

In the third day students were invited to deepdive in the world of data analysis using a spreadsheet tool, like Open Office’s Calc or Google Sheets. The six-hour session showed the groups how stories can be dug out of datasets and what questions can be asked. Students were introduced to great functions that help journalists understand statistics and data analysis in a friendly way, like the famous “vlookup” which allows two tables with a common column to be joined for further analysis. Steve Doig, renowned data journalist and trainer from the United States, gently provided his “Datamania” table to be part of Escola de Dado’s course.

Here are the resources used in the third day:

Slides – Finding stories in data

Not magic: Scraping data from the web & data visualization

Scraping the web and ways to visualize data were the subjects of the fourth day. In the first part, students learned how to use an array of tools to scrape data from web pages, without the need to write a single line of code. They learned how a web page works inside-out using the webinspector tool present in all modern browsers and saw how tools like Google Sheets, IFTTT and Chrome’s Web Scraper extension can help journalist to extract information from web pages in an automated fashion. The second part of the class was dedicated to introduce concepts of data visualization and design. Students walked through many good and not so great examples of data visualization. They also got to know amazing free tools to visualize data, such as Infogr.am, Timeline.js, Odissey.js, Tableau Public and Datawrapper.

Here are the resources used in the fourth day:

Slides – Datavis

Slides – How web pages are structured

Slides – Webscraping

The power of Geojournalism and how maps can make you a better journalist

The last day introduced students to Geojournalism, which is basically the use of maps and geolocalised data to find relevant stories. Groups learned how to use jeo, a WordPress theme for interactive maps and journalism and cartoDB, a great tool to visualize data on maps on the web without a hassle. In the last part groups presented their data journalism projects, which included a profile of elected representatives in Rio de Janeiro, an analysis of the water shortage that affects São Paulo and a violence map of micro regions in Salvador.

We were fortunate to meet extremely talented photography and journalism students who volunteered themselves to cover the courses with blog posts and pictures throughout the two weeks in both Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. Our reporters collected testimonials from the students and wrote about the overall atmosphere of the sessions, keeping the Portuguese-speaking School of Data community up to date with our activities. We also used social media, such as twitter and Facebook to spread the word about the courses as we went. You can check out our coverage (Brazilian-Portuguese only!) in the links and photo gallery below.

Escola de Dados Blog Posts

Photo Gallery Salvador

Photo Gallery Rio de Janeiro

These courses are part of Escola de Dados broad strategy to foster data literacy in Brazil, with a focus on the journalism community. The experience showed us that there is a demand for data journalism in educational institutions in the country. Escola de Dados will keep pursuing partnerships that strengthen the connection between the academia, students and professionals so that they can build together the platform they need to prepare the next generation of journalists and of journalism itself in Brazil.

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Prototyping a card game about datavisualisation – Part 1

Cédric Lombion - May 4, 2015 in Data Stories, Visualisation

On April 11, I was invited by TechSoup Europe to Istanbul to speak at ThingsKamp, a conference dealing with topics such as data, technology, peer learning… This event was a the culmination of a series social projects about technology and community building.

I was asked to make an interactive presentation, so I grabbed the chance to work on an idea I was toying with: making a datavisualisation card game.

You can grab my slides here.

 

1. Why a card game?

The card game has the advantage of being physical, which is nice break from the all-computer kind of data workshops. It facilitates discussion, create a more relaxed learning atmosphere and works for all ages.

Games in general, when designed well, can be picked up by beginners who will understand the rules and the nuances as they read the ruleset and play the game. This is a definitive advantage if we want to spread data literacy: a game can reach more people than we ever will.

I got the permission of Severino Ribecca, the creator of the ever useful datavizcatalogue, to use his illustrations as teaching materials, so I used them to build the prototype.

 

2. How does it look like?

dataviz card game

There are two sets of cards:

  • The playing cards, with the visualisations. On the front, the symbol and the name of the visualisation. On the back, the categories those visualisations belong to. Most materials were sourced from the datavizcatalogue.
  • The « scenario » cards, where I’ve written typical questions that we use to explore a dataset. For this prototype there were 9 cards around a same theme, with two themes: traffic accidents and domestic violence.

I won’t distribute the files for now because it’s a prototype, and the illustrations are not under a creative commons licence. A dedicated website will be set up to distribute the cards and rulesets once the illustrations are reworked and the mechanics improved.

 

3. How does it play like?

Because I was uncertain about the number of attendees, I decided on game that could be played quickly, and with groups.

avr. 14, 2015 09:43

I set up two tables, one set of playing cards by table. The participants were split into two groups, each one assigned to a table. After I’d read a « scenario » card, the groups had to search together the corresponding charts, in a limited time. When the time was over, they had to put the cards in the air, so I could verify their cards, give out points and explain the correct reasoning.

The game is played over several turns, and the winning group is the one with the most points at the end, by adding points for each good card and subtracting for each wrong one.

 

4. How did people react?

The group game pushed people to debate about what works and what doesn’t. The groups only had one minute to decide, so the final seconds were stressful but definitely fun.

The positive feedback:

  • « it was really interesting, I learned a lot »,
  • « I never went beyond the line, pie and bar chart, so I discovered a lot of new charts, just by seeing them on the table »,
  • « I never made the conscious efforts of linking variables with charts, so this was a great learning experience for me »
  • « It was fun to use physical cards »

The negative feedback:

  1. « There were many people around the table, so its was hard to look at all the cards. A reference sheet would have helped »
  2. « It went a bit quickly, so I couldn’t understand all the explanations and illustrations »

For a test run, this workshop was successful. In part 2, I will describe the process of creating the game, and the challenges left to tackle.

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