Week Three: Too much math!

Today we started off the lesson by discussing the homework, which was comparing infographics on the state of the union speeches. We discussed most of the graphs that were provided in the presentation. A few people gave their views and which ones they had compared and what they managed to extrapolate from it.

This week I didn’t discuss what I had wrote about but I spoke about an infographic which was displayed a list of words and how much each president had used these words, which was given in a colour coordinated infographic. Green showing the word being used often and red showing that the word wasn’t used at all. I then talked about an infographic which looked at the frequency of a series of different words, these were grouped into 7 different topics, therefore showing the difference between term frequency of different presidents in their speeches. The last one I discussed was an infographic that displays words presidents have said that no other presidents have used, this infographic is in lists and thus is very different from the other two that I talked about.

Continuing with a presentation about ‘visualizing data’, we learnt about data terminology such as data point, which is one piece of data and aggregated data which is grouped or combined from several measurements.

This is when we moved onto the math part of data journalism – YAY… We discussed how to calculate the average, mean, median and mode of datasets. This was followed up by doing a few exercises to practice. We also compared what percent and percentage point is.

We went over a few examples of how fake data can be posted and how data can be posted and perceived in a whole different way if it isn’t displayed correctly. Something interesting that we were shown, is a more creative way of creating infographic, such as how Mona Chalabi from the Guardian creates her infographics. Using a more ‘self-created’ infographics with drawings.

Starting off after the break, we went over the homework which was about two podcasts that we had to listen to. The first one was ‘Mona Chalabi: How can we tell the good statistics from the bad ones?’ and ‘Alan Smith: Why do we trust intuition over even the most reliable numbers?’. A few students discussed their opinions on the podcasts. I shared one of my thoughts which was Mona talking about a survey that the US did on how many people support Jihad, it turned out as a high percentage however Mona was saying when approaching this information, she would look at the specifics such as questions and definitions. She came to see that in this survey there were two completely different definitions of jihad, one about the violence and one more leaning towards peaceful religion, which the majority defined it as. This changes the entire perspective on the situation.

Every table was handed out a number of infographics and we had to choose two of them to talk about. Discussing whether we would know what it is about without the title, we had to talk about how it looks, why certain things have been used and placed where they have been placed. Also discussing the statistics and where they are from. The first infographic we talked about is about ‘Drinking culture in Italy’ and the second infographic is ‘People in the UK spend more time communicating than sleeping’.