Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, this one was difficult. The FBI crime statistics had to be pulled up one year at a time, and came in the form of massive files with data for approximately 600 colleges each year. I had to merge 2008-2011, create some new fields that generated results so I could get rate per 1,000 students (instead of absolute number of crimes), and generally do a ton of work you won’t see in the final product.
Which is this:
Photo by JARED KENDALL.
This data was gathered for a Redshtick article. I thought it’d be an easy find, but it took hours. I wanted information on the usage rates for laptops amongst college kids. Straightforward, right? Not so much. I eventually found some information from the Pew internet research surveys. But no data spanning years on college kids and their gear. Single year stats, sure — I could tell you what percent of college kids use laptops in class as of the moment. Data, however, becomes most interesting when it can be viewed over time, and you can try to spot trends.
Point is, this is actually fairly interesting, particularly the way it drives home the conversion from a desktop-centric universe to one where laptops are the norm. If you’re feeling adventurous you can play with tablet numbers and the like — that’s the point of these Tableau presentations. They leave a good bit of the control and the exploration up to the end user/reader.
I love LexisNexis. I’d just like to put that out there.
The academic version of the news search database helped me discover something interesting: Coverage of Black Friday hasn’t always been so extensive.
My original goal was to find out how many times Black Friday is mentioned in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, through the day after, versus how many times Afghanistan is mentioned during that same eight day period each year. Turned out that Afghanistan has a fairly steady figure (I expected it to steadily or suddenly decline over time as readers developed war fatigue) while Black Friday has soared from 10-30 stories per year to more than 100.
Link to a version of the chart which can be modified to display posts on Afghanistan, as well as to include or exclude years:
Who knew loss leaders could be so much more interesting? And at which point will loss leaders eclipse combat losses for our national attention?
Classroom with Three Figures by Lavern Kelley, painted white pine, plywood, brass, and plastic, 1979, 1984–87. Photo by cliff1066™ on Flickr
While waiting on additional interviews, I continue to occupy myself by trying to find figures to compare and contrast BRMHS with other schools in the state.
This time I’m looking at GEE test results, for 2011:
Not as interesting as the prior table, but these numbers seem to dive a little deeper into actual achievement levels at the school, so I like them.
For my journalism class final project, I have to research and write an article about a subject of my choosing.
I went with the refurbishment/rebuilding of Baton Rouge Magnet High School. I’ve gotten my first interview under my belt, and am working on lining up my secondary interviews (students, teachers, and former students) so that I’ve got more quotes & info to draw on.
I’ve already finished up one piece I’m excited about: A table which pulls performance ratings for every school in the state of Louisiana from 2007 through 2011, and allows you to select which of that data is displayed. It defaults to a short list of high-performing high schools that includes Baton Rouge Magnet High School in its list.
Numbers are fun to me, and these numbers allow anyone who wants to do so to compare figures for any school in the state, once they mess around a bit. It means I don’t have to talk about these numbers much in the body text of my article, and that I’m not leaving anything out in case a reader has a question I never thought of.
Now, if I can just get my interview subjects to kick in some great quotes or background, I’ll be all set. Oh, and I still have to go wander around the BRHS campus and take some photos… But that can probably wait.
Wouldn’t mind figuring out how to make the tableau table scaleable so it will fit in the WordPress post, but I haven’t quite managed that yet. When I’ve tried to use its embed code it is too wide to look at, and the controls don’t work, either.