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2020-08-20 | J++ Newsletter #96

Inspiration


The winners of the 2020 Malofiej Awards are out. The Malofiej is an infographics competition organized by Society for News Design, Spain. Among the gold medalists are New York Times, with their “Paths to the congress”, pictured above, and South China Morning Post's infographics from the Hong King protests, both previously highlighted in this newsletter.
https://www.malofiejgraphics.com/2020/08/general/the-new-york-times-and-national-geographic-win-the-endesa-best-of-show-award/

If you want to dive into all the best entries for inspiration, there is a handy Google Sheets document with all the links: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Bc_1rhKxSSzA6mbIkqGN5mxR5cky80vHhPWyW0XHCfM/edit#gid=0



In a beautiful example of how to utilize your own data, Scientific American has produced a massive amount of charts on word frequency changes over the past 175 years.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-language-of-science/
Method: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-turn-175-years-of-words-in-scientific-american-into-an-image/
 

Tools


Do you wish you knew d3, but find it too overwhelming to get started? This tutorial/diary by Diana MacDonald will take you through it all, while also pointing out a lot of the strengths and weaknesses of the framework.
And the idea of keeping a study journal for things like this is great!
https://medium.com/@didoesdigital/learning-data-viz-with-d3-8b54afcef74

LibreOffice 7.0 has some noteworthy bug fixes for their spreadsheet program Calc
  • Opening a document with a lot of images no longer takes forever (some international organisations are very fond of embedding tiny country flags next to country names. These used to be an headache for LibreOffice users).
  • Autofilling formulas in large sheets is another thing that has been annoyingly slow in LibreOffice, compared to Excel. This is now significantly faster.
Also: Alt + = is now a shortcut for ”autosum”, just like in Excel
https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/7.0#Calc 

Speaking of Excel; A favorite anecdote to drop during Excel workshops is that of how a lot of research papers in genetics have been corrupted by Excel mistaking gene names for date. Turns out science had to give up the fight against Excel, and simply rename the genes...
https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/6/21355674/human-genes-rename-microsoft-excel-misreading-dates

Sweetviz is yet another tool for automatically exploring and getting an overview of a dataset (an “EDA”), still in beta. We haven't tried it out ourselves, but it seems to at least have a lower threshold for getting started than most others.
https://towardsdatascience.com/sweetviz-automated-eda-in-python-a97e4cabacde
 

At J++


What happens to essential services in small towns with a decreasing population? A former course participant of ours at The Swedish Tenants' Assiciation's magazine Hem & Hyra did some extensive geodata research, to find the towns worst hit by service drain.
https://www.hemhyra.se/nyheter/granskning-sa-drabbas-hyresgasterna-nar-befolkningen-halveras/
If you are in Sweden and interested in learning the tools needed to do this kind of analysis, you should check out our next “Geodata for journalists” course in November:
https://jplusplus.org/sv/academy/lar-dig-grava-i-geodata/ (Swedish)

Shortly before the summer holidays, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) declared that they will cease publishing detailed data on school performance, and remove existing data from the web. This will obviously make it hard for the public to evaluate schools, and to follow up on how private education companies as well as municipalities handle public money. We are in the process on scraping and storing all available datasets, to make sure that at the very least historic data is still available. Public repository (work in progress):
https://github.com/jplusplus/skolstatistik
Please drop us a line if you'd like to help us collect what is still missing! stockholm@jplusplus.org
 


Opportunities


The Bureau of Investigative Journalism are looking for an “Algorithms Reporter” in London for 9 months.
https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/blog/2020-07-30/were-hiring-apply-to-be-our-algorithms-reporter
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