If you have an interest in collaborating on this or have specific questions, drop me a comment below!
VPAT for 508 Compliance
Section 508 compliance is a thing. It's actually been a thing for a while. For some reason, I became interested in learning more about how to build 508 compliant vizzes. My plan is to develop a 508 considerations and recommendations quick reference document so to provide some guiding thoughts on what vizzers should be cognizant of and what workarounds they can do to create reports, vizzes, dashboards, or stories that all people can see. While I have a bunch of work ahead of me, I wanted to share something I just received...Tableau's VPAT, which is their voluntary product accessibility template results. While I haven't reviewed it in depth, I wanted to share here on the blog so that others could have immediate access to it. I'll plan to do more review, with either a post or to inform my next steps for the quick reference document. Note: I noticed that the text was cut off in some cells. The Tableau rep indicates that this is the only version he has seen.
If you have an interest in collaborating on this or have specific questions, drop me a comment below!
Y'all. I have a confession to make. I don't feel very women's empowermenty. Last year, I organized WEViz (women's empowerment visualization event) & this year, my plate is so full, I couldn't pull it off. I'm behind on a lot of stuff. These grand plans I had are not materializing.
I mourned WEViz for a little bit. How can I make a difference if I'm not contributing or facilitating?
I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and one of the concepts in the book is that ideas can pass on to others as well as committing to and nurturing them. And accepting/embracing that concept is like acknowledging that you did what you could while the idea was in your court. So when the idea is in someone else's court, it's their turn to commit fully to it. This concept really helped me get through the 'why can't I get my shit together and dedicate the time to get this done?' to 'yes! the message/awareness is still out there!' through others (like Data Dare) challenging folks to do women's empowerment vizzes. I want to participate and show my support and contribute to the Data Dare. But...when?
There are so many things I want to do.
If I take a look at how I spend my time, I can chunk it into major categories:
To me, it becomes a question of: am I okay with it?
With respect to WEViz, yes. Awareness is being raised by others. I'm good with that.
At the end of the day, I have to make choices. What do I prioritize? Right now, building my business and coaching my clients is a top priority. Training for my fitness competition is a top priority. Spending time with family is a top priority. Contributing to the Tableau/Dataviz community is important. Perhaps I can't do everything I want. As long as I meet a certain (unknown) threshold for dataviz, then I feel okay.
So as I reflect on this International Women's Day and my two hour commute home (which is where I wrote most of this with my car in park on New York Ave in DC), the fact that I ate dinner, kissed the kids, & went right back out to the gym, I thought of the following:
I can't do it all but as long as I'm happy overall, then it's all good.
I was super happy to see February's theme; love. I knew I wanted to do something around Valentine's Day and so I decided to track how I express love. The kids and I started Valentine's at my parents' house and due to a snowstorm, cut the trip short and returned home.
I went analog at first by tracking the expressions of love in my notebook, then transferring the to google sheets, where I connected to the data using the web data connector (seriously one of the best features IMO). I created a few different charts but I had trouble coming up with a design/theme (which is just one reason I was late getting this card out). I use Tableau just for data exploration for Data Chain work. I might fancy it up a little, but I really look at it as a means to an end. Spending time with my mini-me brought me design clarity.
One of the side benefits of being late is that I could capture the two cards in one picture (silver lining)!
So there we have it, I'm all hearts and rainbows. The hearts are shaded by the types of love. Purple is for memes, gifts, etc, while pink is for hugs, and red is for kisses. The borders around each represent the people I expressed love to. The big heart is for my family, the middle heart is for friends, and because I love social media, the small heart represents a Facebook post. One thing I learned from this month's data chain is that I need to show more friends love.
And if you're wondering, Katie chose to be the color purple on the border and loved the hearts and rainbows.
I love seeing the commentary on #TableauIsWhy. It seems like this software tool has made an indirect or direct impact on so many.
A couple of years ago, I participated in a hackathon for women's empowerment and learned about key factors in empowerment. That really stuck with me. As a result, I was inspired to host a virtual hackathon called WEViz (Women's Empowerment Viz) event last year. When I was working on WEViz , I stumbled upon a video about child marriage. And it made me sick. This gut wrenching feeling solidified this notion of being a women's empowerment advocate. I made over a HuffPo viz, but importantly, I began to pay more attention.
On Instagram, I follow Katie Marshall who not only is a fit mom, but a World Help blogger. She would share her experiences and I decided I wanted to contribute
Sarah, Katie, Alex, & Darrell Green
I became a World Help Advocate and this past February, when they wanted people to put their Love on the Map, I did just that. Learning about child marriage and other issues in Uganda from my work on WEViz, I decided I was going to sponsor a girl from Uganda. And then I found Sarah (which is also my sister's name). What I learned about Sarah's family is that it's just Sarah's mom and her siblings. Her story is one that you read about...having to fetch water or not having enough money. So I'm happy to help and hopefully make a difference.
But what does this have to do with Katie, Alex, & Darrell Green (one of the GOAT Washington and dare I say NFL players)? In a speech he gave at my work, he said something that really resonated with me.
Things are caught before they're taught.
I hope Katie and Alex are catching on to a few key concepts:
We live in a global community and we can make a difference in the world.
It's totally cool for girls to do things they are interested in...even if it's playing with data on the weekends.
Hopefully things will be different as the kids get older, but regardless, they should support each other. Alex can be an ambassador for girls in his class or Katie so that they are treated equitably.
To sum it all up, Tableau is why I learned more about women's empowerment issues and why I'm trying to do something about it.
You'd think for someone who talks a lot January's theme, What I Said, would be NBD. Wrongo. My problem is that I had too many options. Do I do something about the podcast? Hashtags on instagram? Tweets? Other conversation? I was also a smidge lazy and didn't feel like manually tracking anything. Sooo, I turned to a trusty IFTTT recipe I created last April on my tweets. I threw the data into Tableau to explore and out popped a story...what do I tweet about more? Dataviz, fitness, or random stuff!
Please note, I did the viz purely for exploratory purposes and did not spend a lot of time tweaking it because it really wasn't the end result.
Before I move on to the postcard, I wanted to mention a couple of points about the viz and what I learned.
So here's the final result. I wanted to use the calendar as the background to represent the sky, the birds on a wire feeling, and I used a flock of birds to represent the amount and type of tweets. I also learned that drawing birds is challenging!! I can't wait to see how February turns out!
So I was looking at the twitter one day and saw this fascinating discussion going on because of this visualization developed by Stephanie Evergreen.
Whew doggie, did it generate some discussion, which I found very fascinating. I was curious to see how I might makeover what Stephanie developed. The last time I tried to visualize financials, I found it very challenging, so when Stephanie put it out there as a challenge, I thought I would see what I came up with and here's where I landed.
What I Tried and Why
So what do you think? How would you represent this data?
December's Data Chain
I loved this month's Data Chain theme-Christmas Music. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I wanted to get the kids involved!
Because I spend so much in the car, I wanted to track the number of times we listened to Christmas music and who requested it.
We started tracking the week of December 6th and the same week, I went to a DC Data Community meetup with Catherine Madden as the speaker. She presented and showed off Paper by 53. I downloaded it immediately and started doodling. I also bought the pencil that goes with the free app (which you can learn more about here). The reason why I'm spending time discussing Paper because I saw a great use case for it. I could draw out concepts for my postcard vizzes. Here's some early iterations of December's concept.
In terms of process, I use Tableau to explore the data and then come up with the postcard. I don't really try to recreate the postcard in Tableau but one inspires the other.
Check out the dashboard I created in Tableau.
And here is the front and back of the postcard I sent to Emma. I'm not quite sure how I came up with the whole Hark the Herald... theme came from but I like it!
One challenge I need to overcome: writing less/being more concise in the how to read section. Maybe I'll try a template to be more concise!
November Data Chain
I have to include this little clip of Pete Yorn's Life on a Chain, only because every time I think of the Data Chain, it reminds me of the song.
Now that the song is stuck in your head, I wanted to go through my thoughts on this November's Data Chain. But first, what is the data chain? So glad you asked! It's a project organized by the awesome Brittany Fong and Sophie Sparks, which was influenced by the Dear Data projects. I thought it was a great way for me to be accountable for doing some vizzes and have some fund, so once I found out about it, I signed up!
November's theme was tracking ingredients! I immediately thought of tracking my macros. I use My Fitness Pal to track what I eat on a regular basis, so this was a great project for me! I wanted to track what foods I ate more often in each category; carbs, fats, and proteins. I had my data in excel for meal planning purposes, so I connected to that to explore the data in Tableau. I did all of that, but for some reason, I lost the file (super sad face). I could try to recreate it, but I've got December's I need to move to onto (so maybe when I have some downtime.
I made some rookie mistakes with my first postcard (it wasn't heavy enough and I feared it would tear), but all in all, I think it was a first good attempt. Check it out!
If you're like me (and most people), as we approach the end of the year, you take some time to reflect back and think ahead. I've thought a fair amount about this past year. A few of highlights for me: realizing that I need to be inspired to do a viz; being named a Tableau Social Ambassador; interviewing some big names in Tableau for the podcast; and actually being a guest on The Purpose Rockstar podcast (which you can listen to right here). More recently, I had my aha moment and figured out what I want to do in life and am figuring out how I make it happen to live my ideal day (a concept discussed in Jairek Robbins's book Live It!). At the same time, I've had some amazing conversations with members of the Tableau community.
In some of these great conversations, people have stated that they want to be a Tableau Zen Master (TZM). Someone asked me if I wanted to be a TZM. At first my answer was yes! I see it was a leadership role, providing the platform to help more people and being recognized as a resource would be awesome. I think so many of us have read/heard Jonathan Drummey's So You Want to be a (Tableau) Zen Master blog post. I love it (& you should definitely read it before continuing on...but please come back)! The challenge with it (as I see it) is that I'm pretty sure eeerrrrybody who reads it totally identifies with it and says, “Yeah, I'd keep doing what I'm doing even if I didn't get TZM.”
But I'd suggest to Let Go of the TZM goal (and don't mask it as wannabe jedi when you really mean for jedi to equal zen).
Let Go of Goals
I'd also submit that we should let go of goals, especially those that are externally driven. I started thinking ahead to next year's goals. I had a document written up with my goals and timeframes and was excited to implement. And then I scrapped it.
That was basically the question. Someone who takes great joy in challenging me, asked me “Why?” My answer couldn't be tied to some great objective. It was simply, "Because I want to get better and help people." So if I relate it back to the TZM conversations...Do I want to be all of those things that TZMs are known for? Pretty much. But TZM or other goals (in my case, being a thought leader) are tied to external decisions, which isn't within my control, so what I can do?
In a Yogi Berra type of comment, control the things I can control. The thing with goals like being a TZM or thought leader is that you have no control over it. You can write all the blogposts, hosts all the meet ups, record all the vlogs, have all the followers, and care deeply about it all you want. But it doesn't change the fact that you're not picking you as TZM or whatever the external goal is. And what a letdown it could be, to do all this work and not meet your goal (those who follow my fitness page know I've experienced this a few times this year). In addition to asking yourself why you really want to be a TZM, I'd offer this up.
Your value is not tied to your TZM status.
The thing is, someone saw some value in them based on some criteria. It doesn't mean they are the nicest or the smartest, or the kindest, or the best people in the world, it means that they excel based on criteria. And just to be clear, this isn't some kind of down with the man post, it's simply to reinforce the fact that one person's value is not tied to a title). As much as I enjoy data viz and Tableau, it is not the only thing in life.
I think at some point we've all played the 'Why is X a TZM?” Usually followed by a game of comparison. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.
Look, it's not like I'm sitting on some pedestal, pretending I'm so enlightened and that this is so easy. It's hard. I like goals. I have a workout tank that says Goal Digger. My mom even says I'm never satisfied; I'm always trying to be and do better. But, I did something super uncomfortable and I scrapped my Tableau goals.
What do I do without goals as guideposts?
So, if I'm doing this whole 'control what I can control' thing. Then, I start thinking about what it is that I can do if I really want a goal. I can control the number of vizzes I publish. Though I learned that the number of vizzes is a meaningless metric for me. I was telling one friend that I can't just do a viz for the sake of doing a viz. I need to be inspired. I've realized that trying to be technical is just not my cup of tea. Calculations will likely never be my jam. But color on the other hand, it's my cupcake. Being curious and having good conversation? That's like the coffee to my cupcake.
But what if people don't like what I contribute? Find no use for it? I'm choosing to ignore those questions. Not everyone will like or appreciate what I write or say. Not everyone sees my value...or yours. And that's okay. I treat my blog as though it's a viz diary that I've let the world read. It makes me happy and that's why I do it. Over this past year, I've been trying to embrace the concepts in Strengths Finder. I'm trying to key in and refine those strengths. Maybe learning a little bit about myself helps shape what I do, goals or no goals.
Be present and enjoy
So basically what I learned this year was to continue to step out of my comfort zone, be present in my data viz work; enjoy the projects (like Data Chain and the podcast). And then maybe I'll reach Nirvana. Or not. But I'll have the gift of presence and I hope you do too.
Woohoo! I have data!
What the heck? That's not making my message pop.
Dang it, that didn't work either. Maybe if I pivot the view.
As I left Las Vegas, I started reflecting on #data15. Tableau hit the jackpot (obligatory Vegas reference) with this conference. There were a lot of great sessions offered and I'm definitely planning to try to watch them. Chief among them are: Chuck Hooper's session, understanding order of operations, & Nelson Davis's data storytelling session..
As I think about conference, there were a few thoughts that popped to mind.
I am so tremendously proud to be a part of this initiative. We saw significant growth in large part due to the support of Tableau employees Ashley Ohmann & Erin Stevens. Anya of datablick totally kicked ass too. I loved hearing from the panel but I especially loved the conversations we had at our table. Sir Ken Robinson spoke about needing diversity to flourish. I think it's initiatives such as this that have a far-reaching impact. I already have some ideas on how to continue this initiative during the year.
Podcasting from data15
I was so excited to be able to chat with some amazing folks at the show. We were fortunate to talk with Francois, Jock McKinlay, devs, & Kelly Wright. Each have a unique perspective and I was all ears. I may have scared Roger Hau with my super excitement. But as a result of that conversation, I learned that I'm fuzzy and Matt's a techy. Sounds about right.
Greens Means Go
I was a late addition to the Atlanta TUG lineup thanks to a zen master conflict. Thanks Andys! I totally loved chatting with the group. I'm such a nerd, I had my outfit planned around my talk (note the green silk top and red lips). I'm easily entertained as you could probably guess. I converted my #seeallthedata post into a talk which included some quotes from my family. See the presentation here. By the way, I loved loved loved this. I was nervous but it's a good character building exercise for me.
First, I am so extremely proud of my data BFF, Matt Francis. He was at the Grand Garden Arena stage (the same used for keynotes) and totally killed it. He seamlessly went from color theory to practical application and 320 slides in one hour. Chuck Hooper described Matt as a class clown of sorts until he starts talking and then he's one of the most brilliant guys you'll meet and I agree.
I always enjoy listening to Andy Cotgreave. I attended this session on new ways to visualize time. I enjoy watching Andy on stage and now he nerds out on the historical aspect and presents it in a consumable (read: non boring) way.
Bethany Lyons is always a favorite of mine. Her stuff is over my head but I like how she gets so super excited about this stuff. Her session on LOD calculations helped aid in my understanding of this relatively new calculation type.
While I had to leave Nelson Davis's session early, I love Nelson's stage presence combined with his smarts. He had some really good takeaways from his session. One of which is to be fanatical about understanding the point and purpose of every detail on your dashboard.
Keys from the Keynotes
The keynotes were really good this year. Dr. Tyson needs a 3 on his badge next year! I love how funny and informative he is. You just feel like he gets it. Dr. Hannah Frye was clever and presented some pretty good points and I loved Daniel Pink's talk. Two big takeaways for me:
And from Dr. Tyson's keynote...
The one thing I love about Tableau is the community. It's the reason why I'm as engaged as I am. With the theme was data+you, I definitely felt the community presence at the conference. I had great conversations at a community leaders appreciation party where I met people behind the avatar. I fed off of the energy and loved the exchanged of ideas. What's interesting is that even though the show has gotten expotentially larger than in prior years, I felt the community vibe more so than last year and that's totally awesome!
In addition to the great training, I love conference is because I get to see my tableau friends I've met at other conferences, meet Twitter friends, and expand my network.
I hope that new users to Tableau also felt the same sense of community. From the awesome training to the genuine connections made, data15 was certainly a valuable experience for me.
And I'm super excited to see how I apply the takeaways and the energy this year.
A Tableau Journey with Aaron Romeo
You know when you hear an interesting story and you want to share it? That's what I thought when Aaron of Veni Vidi Vizi shared his story with me one morning. My hope is that you find this interview interesting and useful! So take a listen (please and thank you)...
Do YOU or someone you know have a great story to share? Let me know! I'd love to chat with you!!
Okay folks, this is gonna be a highly editorial post but since I want to say something on the subject and I have a blog, it seems like I have a forum to speak my mind (even if this is like writing in my diary).
Tableau has two major initiatives going on currently that are centered around women in data. As Shawn questions in his philosophical thread, why do we need such a forum and questions whether women need men's help?
My answer to those questions is quite simple to me. In an utopia, we would not need forums like this. Everyone would be judged on merit and those who do well advance. However, we are not in an utopia. As Anya points out in her response, there is data to back up the reasoning why we need forums like this, only 26% of women made up the computing workforce in 2013. She quotes other statistics as well. And like Anya, I'd like to explore why. Is it that women don't want to work in this field, are they not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts (from schooling to job advancement)? I think understanding the root cause of the numbers is especially important. Maybe the 26% is okay. Or not. However, I think we can all agree that when we have a diverse workforce, our industry and society is better for it. If you don't believe that, I would strongly encourage you to take diversity training.
To answer a second question about whether women need men? The answer is yes. First off, men are about half of the general population, so yeah. It's almost as if we need each other (gasp)! Secondly, if we believe that women should have greater representation in the workforce if they choose to, then we do need the support of men, whether it's spousal support to go to after-work user group meetings or supporting women in the workplace. In my opinion, men play a key role to supporting and empowering women in this space. Further, I see this support as necessary to also close the pay gap that exists (where yo, overall women make about 77 cents to the dollar men make). So if this support helps empower women and creates economic empowerment, then our respective families and communities are better for it. So to me, men are critical to women's empowerment.
To close this out (for now), there is a Women in Data meet up at #data15. I encourage everyone (men and women) to attend so that in my view, we can be the agents of change for a better local and global community.
Anyone who has listened to the Tableau Wannabe Podcast knows that one thing that sticks in my craw is using red/green color palette. Am I color blind? Nope. Why do I always seem to raise the issue when we talk about vizzes with red/green colors? I don't know. I suppose it's because I want every reader to see data, maybe I like sticking up for a minority group of readers, or maybe it's a little of both. Either way, it's one of the things I am aware of when designing a visualization. But, it's not enough to just say that you shouldn't use a red/green palette in your viz. You (or I) need to understand the why...why should we not use red and green together? When I came across Chris Love's viz on Australia's cricket team, it made me think:
Which shades of red and green are safe to use together?
So I decided to do a little spare-time research and document it (so I don't forget).
What about the 80/20 rule?
I don't think that rule should be taken literally. I totally get that about 8-10% of people (mainly men) worldwide are color deficient and it does beg the question, why go through this consideration for just 8%? I can think of three ways to respond to this:
Does this mean you have to be a Grinch at Christmas?
Now that I've made the case against using a red/green color palette, you actually can use the two colors together and enjoy the reds and greens that Christmas has to offer. Let's revisit Chris's viz, through a different lens.
I put an image of Chris's viz through VizCheck and here's what it looks like for the three types of color deficiencies.
So, what we can see is that by using a highly contrasting red and green palette, we can see the visualization regardless of the color deficiency type. And that's the key:
Use a high contrast red and green color palette to ensure everyone can #seeallthedata.
And for reference, here is the color wheel and how it looks with the three types of color deficiencies: deuteranope, protanope, and tritanope.
Tableau can be a really awesome tool. You can have a ton of great information waiting for the user to read or explore. But. What if the user is new and know they have Tableau (Reader) on their desktop but know nothing more than that? As much as we believe Tableau is intuitive and easy, there's still a learning curve.
Will the user be able to see the data or will they get tripped up in what that thingie does?
I submit that as report/dashboard developers, we should do our part to make it easy on the reader, especially dealing with data that is complex or challenging. Important data and hard work shouldn't go to waste because someone doesn't know how to use "that Tableau thing". To that end, I put together a little navigational tips document for reference so that they become a little more comfortable with the tool and can turn their attention to the data. I know it's not complete (there's so much to cover), but at least it's a start. Click here to view a redacted version of the document. Let me know what you've done, too!
NonCompliant In a Comic World
I found an article on Facebook about how women are getting tattoos of the letters NC like in the Bitch Planet comic book. This intrigued me so I thought I would read more about it. Interestingly, Bitch Planet had a solid outing for an indie feminist comic. And when asked about getting a tattoo from a comic book that's only had a few issues released, women en masse had a great response: If you think we got a tattoo because of the comic, you've missed the point. Check out some of the tattoos here. It almost makes me want one. But I'll probably stick to drawing with a sharpie.
For some reason, I was super fascinated with this and wanted to do a viz that had a comic book feel. I kept thinking about it but the data wasn't in a readily consumable format (that I could find). So I cobbled it together (you know I mean business when I assemble data).
About the Viz
I wanted a Kirby crackle background but it seemed too distracting (plus, I'm not very good at doing Kirby crackle). Because I wanted to pay homage to illustrators, I used pencils to provide the background. I found some of the analysis intersting (like the female Thor totally kicked ass and outsold the Odinson). I also learned a more about the different publishers and that there's a Jem comic that was recently released. I took some liberties. I estimated sales volume to the publishers by taking a percentage of a typical sales price. I'm sure if I did way more research, I could get more exact with it, but in my mind, I wanted to have an idea of how much money publishers were grossing. I also did a little research to select the comics analyzed...they represent the comics that kept coming up as feminist comics.
Also note, I'm not completely happy with this viz. In terms of formatting, I feel like some font and color choices could be improved. But, since I sat on this for awhile after I had it basically done, I just wanted it out becaus if I kept trying to work on it, I wouldn't get it published. So I say all of this to say: I know there are improvements just can be made (I mentioned my top two), so don't rip me a new one because the colors might be perceived as jarring. I tried to choose the colors to represent the comics.
I would love to see how others might visualize this data or how I might improve upon it with more time. I think I need a vizcation to just focus on data viz 😊.
Check it out the viz below. Clicking the viz will link to the interactive viz on Tableau Public. Oh and just to note: I'm not a super fan of comics nor am I pretending to be one...I was just intrigued by the story! Special thanks to Matt Francis for helping me troubleshoot some formatting issues I had with Story Points.
Dear Diary 6.19.15
I was thinking the other day that learning how to use Tableau is much like playing Candyland. You think you have the general idea of how the game works and then you learn some of the instructions and it's like getting the black dot card and losing a turn. I think there are four responses after getting a few of these blank cards.
Sometimes I feel like option 1. Why does it have to be so hard? I'm not super detailed when it comes to data. It's like I'm trying to play piano and I pound on the keys. Sometimes it sounds great. Sometimes it's a bloody mess. I also have negative self-talk, questioning myself if I even be using the tool.
Then I take a breath and ask myself...is this fundamental? Do I need to know this to have a basic working knowledge of the tool? And how quickly do I need to learn this? If it's for my Tableau Public work, it's rarely urgent. But as I've written ad nauseam, I don't have a lot of free time so that means if I'm going to spend time learning about something, it needs to be important to me. And while it would be easy for me to ask a friend to help me out and take care of the obstacle, it's not really helping me out in the long run. Yes, I suppose I could reverse engineer the workbook so I could mimic what was done. But let's be real...rarely have I done that (primarily a time issue). Plus, my challenge is that it's one person's take on it. It could be the hackiest way to do things when there was a more direct way of doing things. In my day job, I've told folks that you can't shortcut a shortcut. Meaning, if you only learn from the hacky/speedy way of doing things & that's your baseline, you may be missing fundamental concepts. Of course it seems impossible to learn every single scenario that could be encountered. I don't think it's necessary (or possible) to learn every possible scenario. It's learning enough to be able to transfer and apply the knowledge learned to all other scenarios.
So where does that leave me? As much as I'd like to flip the board over, I don't foresee that. I really love data visualization, even if I still have a ton to learn. I can't get someone to play for me because it's like cheating (myself). Do the hardest thing and figure out how to play by myself? I'm not thinking this is a good option because of time and inexperience, which could lead to being frustrated and then wanting to flip over the board. That leaves me with reaching out for help. Ugh. Not super excited about this because it's scary for a couple of reasons. It's admitting I don't know what I feel are the fundamentals and the person helping me may get frustrated with my inability to pick up the subject. However, it's the best option I have. So that's what I'm doing.
As I think about all of this, I've also started to think about what I consider to be my strengths when it comes to visualizing data and some other fun observations. Like when I'm at work and someone is talking about data and what they're aiming to measure, I start thinking about the chart type (then I switch back to focusing on the content---which is actually my primary job). Or the thing that I enjoy the most is telling a story through the annotation layer. I think it's because I like to write and I think of the introduction, the body, and the conclusion of the story. I like thinking about all of the design elements that go into dashboarding. Much like I'm not a Jonathan Drummey for table calcs, I'm no Anya A'Hearn when it comes to dashboarding. But (& this is the most important part I think), I enjoy it. So I'll most likely miss the mark sometimes, but I'm sure I'll learn from it (feels a bit like Maxwell's Failing Forward).
Well, I think entry turned into a novella! Until next time...
I've tried to write this blogpost several times and each time, I can't find the right words. So I'm writing because I'd rather have the experience documented than just a memory in my head. Plus, I wanted to share my outline.
Someone from this group, KidsCount, reached out to me to help them with a Tableau Public 101 Webinar they wanted to host for their folks in each state. First, a big shout out to MC Dingh who connected KidsCount with me...you rock MC!!! This was webinar also served to prime the attendees for a more in-depth data workshop at their conference in early May. Holy cow!!! I think The first message to my data BFFs was “OMG YOU GUYS. I'm so super excited!!” Then after I actually had time to think about it (and after they kept calling me a Tableau expert a couple of times), I thought, “Oh shit. I have to do a really good job with this. These folks are gonna look to me to have all the answers. I don't have all the answers. I feel remedial sometimes. Maybe I need to recommend someone else.” Then I told myself to buck up. I needed to do this and I should do this. And yeah it was scary, but it was good for me. One of the things that helped tremendously was that I clarified that I was no expert. This was a risk. But I used it as a positive.
You don't have to be an expert to develop a good visualization in Tableau.
So that was my goal. Give the attendees a good introduction to Tableau Public so that they could create good visualizations.
In the days leading up to the webinar, my daughter had her tonsils and adenoids out. I was expecting her recovery to be like my son's; rest with lots of Slurpees. Ah kids...you expect one thing, they do another. I was going to use that time she was resting to really draft out some super awesome talking points, do a couple of dry runs, & catch up on blogging.
Are you still laughing? I am.
So what really happened is that I commissioned the TV be a babysitter when I did a tech check for about 30 minutes. This time was really all about Katie so I otherwise spent time hanging out with my favorite chick and I worked on my talking points the weekend before the webinar. I also scheduled a dry run with one of my data friends, who I thought would provide constructive feedback in a way I could handle. That was super helpful in identifying where I needed to shore up my talk & other logistical items.
April 24th rolled around and I felt mentally ready to rock. I also know a couple of things about me. I like early afternoon presentations. It gives me time in the morning to mentally prepare myself, by having a great breakfast, working out, reviewing talking points on last time, etc. This is the formula that works for me.
So it was go time. Once I started talking, it just all fell into place. I presented for about 45 minutes covering everything from how to install Tableau Public to creating a dashboard, story points, as well as some data visualization best practices.
When it was done, I felt like a kickass rockstar. I shared the knowledge I had learned and I stepped out of my comfort zone. I set a goal to be a resource in the Tableau community for newbies and the KidsCount Webinar aligned directly with that goal. I might have jumped for joy and did a little shimmy and shake.
Are the attendees going to create Jonathan Drummey-esque table calcs or create a freakin' treasure map like Matt Francis as a result of the webinar. Nope. Should they be able to gain a better understanding and start creating visualizations? Yep. And I'm good with that.
If you're interested, here are my talking points and my workbook that I created in the Webinar.
I am way overdue on this post, but the new job has kept me busy! So I'm took some time this Mother's Day weekend to talk about WEViz and the submissions I received.
I have met some great folks through the data viz and Tableau community. I've also been compelled to try to be a data do-gooder. I think it's part of our civic responsibility to try to make the our community, whether that's local or global, a better place. I have especially been struck by women's empowerment data and trying to make a difference. I don't have a massive platform, so it's hard for one person to make a difference. I also think it's great to see the different perspectives we have. Add to the mix a little four year old girl who I am completely in love and want the best for, and it equals a Women's Empowerment Visualization event. With the help of my friend Matt Francis, we assembled a list of women's empowerment data sets. I was also super fortunate that Derek Schwabe from Bread for the World collaborated with us to provide data to visualize.
I am so grateful for those who took their time to explore the topic. My goal was to raise awareness and socialize the issue so that maybe a viz or a blogpost would resonate with someone and they in turn would take action. One of the biggest challenges in data visualization is to illicit a response. We can visualize data, but how might a bar chart or scatter plot really convey the issues? You want that figurative punch to the gut, call to action response as a result of seeing the visualization. It's very hard to do and it's something I'm now committed to trying when I do my social good vizzes.
I love that while we worked with similar data, each person had a different perspective. So, without further ado, let's see the visualizations! Click on the visualizations to explore.
Jen Vaughan is a total viz rockstar and did two visualizations; one on global HDI rankings and a geospatial analysis of gender inequality. The HDI data is a challenge because it's not complete, so kudos to Jen for creating something meaningful with the data that was present.
Further cementing her data dogooder status, Jen also visualized data on gender inequality.
I love how Franca shows the dollar and percentage difference for differences between men and women's wages. What I find so interesting is that when the Pay Equity Act was passed in 1963, the wage difference was 59%. In 2009, when the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed, the difference was 77%, while the latest data in 2013 reflects a difference of 78%. Aren't we going in the wrong direction?
Finally, we have Matt Francis's visualization. I have to confess that I tried to push Matt by constantly asking him, “Will it be impactful? Will it cause a reaction?” I'm pretty sure he's tired of my questions. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to tweak tooltips. In this case, I thought it was extremely important because I thought it would aid in understanding. In this horizontal panel (a layout Matt wanted to explore) visual, we can see the entire story laid out in front of us, with each panel representing a piece of the story. While Matt and I originally intended to work on this viz together, he did most of the vizzing, while I did most of the texting. I would love to see how we could incorporate images in this viz to make it more impactful.
So, will this virtual data viz event have made an impact? I can't speak for others, but for me, it has. See, through doing some research for the narrative on Matt Francis's vizualization, I discovered this youtube clip. And I'm pretty sure I was yelling at my computer questions like: How can this still be a thing and how could they do that to their daughter? and Why is her life not valued as much?
It's not the impact I expected, but it certainly resonates with me, and hopefully one day in the near future, will spur some action on my part to #ENDChildMarriageNOW.
About a year or so ago, I received what I think is one of the best pieces of advice I will ever receive. An organizational consultant once told me to come from a place of genuine curiosity. So that's how I ended up picking Dash Davidson's 2015 Steamer Projections visualization to discuss on the podcast. What was I curious about? Outlining marks. I saw a little image of the viz on the VOTD Facebook page and immediately thought of the question and knew I wanted to have a dialogue around when it's appropriate to outline marks.
But then in preparation for the podcast, I realized two things...Dash is a mothereffing genius when it comes to baseball stats. Why? Well, I know a little about baseball (Go O's!), but I didn't quite understand the story his viz was trying to convey. Now, I get baseball is a very stats heavy game, but to me, it seemed like a bunch of stats were visualized and I was left trying to figure out what to make of them. But that's just me. While I didn't think Matt would have a clue about baseball (no offense Matt “Mr. Baseball” Francis), I knew that Andy Kriebel, who was our scheduled guest, is sporty and he could be able to help make sense of it for me. You can listen to his comments on the podcast, but I think we are of the same position. Okay, so then I thought, maybe Andy loves soccer/football more than baseball. Let me ask my husband who played on an all star team in high school, played JC ball, manages the O's from our TV, & who is an assistant coach for my son's little league team. He's sure to set me straight & then look at me as if I'm some moron for not knowing what WOBA means. Side note: I've been trying to get my husband interested in data viz and this baseball viz was sure to appeal & we could then talk data viz at the dinner table, solve the world's problems, and go on to raise Nobel laureates who were influenced by the fascinating dinner table discussion. Okay, so I might have taken that daydream a little too far. Anyway, I asked my all knowing husband to give me his thoughts on the viz. I asked what WOBA meant and if he understood the viz. For someone who has been playing or watching baseball for 30+ years, he stated that he didn't quite know what it was about and he did have to look up information (which he then sent to me).
Now, is my husband *the* authority on baseball? Nope (sorry, husband. You've got a lot going for you but you are not the alpha and omega for baseball). But my question...is that what it takes to understand this visualization? Is this the type of dialogue we are supposed to have about the viz?
Ben came out with this great clarifying post on what Viz of the Day is and what it isn't. Basically, it's an engaging, beautiful data story and about creating a dialogue. It's not a data visualization best practice resource. Got it. But when I go back to this viz, I don't understand the story being told. Maybe some narrative would help me understand the message being conveyed On the podcast where we discussed it with Andy, he suggested that the Tableau Public team should summarize why a viz is chosen. I fully support this recommendation.
Why do I agree with Andy's suggestion? Because it goes back to the reason why we talk about VOTD on the podcast; I want to use them as a learning tool. I'm not looking to argue the merits of VOTD and I'm not actually looking to dissect a viz. I want to understand what makes up good data stories or learn about visualizations that use hacky stuff that I can't do (but at least I know it's possible). I believe that providing a synopsis can help others in their personal development. Maybe the folks that are very analytical want to develop engaging, beautifully designed stories. Or maybe it's the storyteller who wants to grow their technical or analytical side. As I write this, I feel like begging with the team to provide a synopsis of why the selected visualization is an engaging, beautiful story.
It would really help me and all other folks who are at the beginning of the data viz learning curve. I know that it might be uncomfortable and thoughts may be challenged, but as long as we come from a place of genuine curiosity and not right/wrong, aren't we all better for it? I think so.
You know when the kids are watching Scooby-Doo, you're enjoying a cup of coffee reading your Bloglovin' feed and start looking at a viz, and then think, "I wonder what this would look like, if...". The kiddos granted me enough peace that I could actually ponder life's questions and play around with Andy Kriebel's FB Commute by Shuttle Analysis viz.
So there were three things that I noticed when I was looking at this viz.
1) The header said that Summer Breaks Lead to Better Commutes but then I see weekdays on columns. So I was wondering what it would look like if weekdays and months were swapped, so that I could more easily see if the commute was better in the summer.
2) Super nit-picky, but I wanted to see what the summary above the viz looked like without the lines.
3) As I was playing around, I saw the tool tips, which are based on the defaults. Personally, I love to customize tool tips.
So this was kind of frightening on Saturday morning....I heard Andy's voice in my head telling me to download it and see what the viz would look like if I made some changes. So that's what I did. I swapped the columns and rows, I tweaked the tooltips to look more like a sentence, I changed 'goal' to be 'expected' (I think he's played/watched too much soccer/football), and I got rid of the gridlines. I was also playing around with the size of the viz. So, why exactly did I do all of this? I suppose because I was curious and because I could. I really wanted to see if swapping would make a difference (because then I'll think about that the next time I build a viz). Here's an image of the viz with my changes.
So here's a visual comparison recap. Big shout out to my kids for the peace and Andy for having a nice viz I could play around with.
So, what do you think? Curious about some other changes? Download the workbook and give it a go!
This year, Tapestry was held in the charming little town of Athens, Georgia. The keynote line up included Hannah Fairfield of The New York Times, Kim Rees of Periscopic, and Michael Austin, a Provost of Newman University and author of the book Useful Fictions. And then there are the short stories, the demos, and the networking. When someone asked me what advice I would give to attendees going to Tapestry, I summed it up with some awesome alliteration (see what I did there): Notes and Networking. Take lots of notes and network with folks. That's one of the benefits of a conference that's capped at about 120 folks. In thinking about the conference, I've had three big threads that I keep coming back to.
This wasn't really a topic that was presented but it was a thread that I first saw on Twitter awhile back.
Conference attendees were asking critical questions to presenters. One such line of questioning to Hannah Fairfield reminded me of something Alberto Cairo talked about at last year's conference (you can find my post about it here)...let the data tell the story, don't come at it with a story and present only the data to support your position. My personal feeling on this is that it's tricky. Of course, if you have the data right in front of you and you ignore it just to tell a story you want, that's not fair to the reader. If you don't have the data available to show perhaps a more complete picture, then I think it's fine to tell the story of that limited data set. My use case for this is women's empowerment data. There are sooooo many factors that go into empowering women that it's difficult to tell the whole story without getting too mired in the details. It's more manageable to talk about pay equity or political empowerment. My position on this might evolve, but for right now, that's what it is. Attendees also questioned Kim Rees heavily on the gun deaths viz and the model used to project the potential life expectancy and cause of death had the person's life not been cut short by gun violence.
Humanize Your Work
Again, not a new comment, but it's one of the topics I heard about at the Data Dive held at the Urban Institute last fall. In her opening remarks, Urban President Susan Rosen Wartell recalled how she was discussing data during a speech and was loudly criticized because it's not just data; the data represents a person. Part of Chad Skelton's talk was about putting the You in the Data. People want to know about themselves (& as I learned, he's still waiting for someone to make a 'What Kind of Chart are You?' BuzzFeed quiz). He asserted (& I totally buy it) that we should start at the individual level and then zoom out to the bigger picture. What was fascinating was that they tested the hypothesis and it showed (not really surprising) that people are focused on themselves first.
Which made think (scary, I know). I've had this question bouncing around my head for awhile...where's the line between engagement and best practice? I bring this up because one of the comments I've received lately is that the scatter plot just doesn't connect with people. So how do we connect with them, to elicit an emotional response (either by putting the You in Data or by engaging them in other ways)? One way that Hannah Fairfield of The New York Times showed to engage is by showing the cost of certain medicines in the US versus other countries. She described it as having a little fun with the data and it was, but it was also engaging and I wonder if more people would have read the visualization because of the raining medicines versus if it was displayed as a bar chart.
Kim Rees of Periscopic wanted to make sure we were awake after lunch. She came out with a pretty bold statement against data storytelling and for data documentaries. That's a pretty controversial statement to make at a data storytelling conference. Kim walked through the gun deaths and other visualizations that the folks at Periscopic created.
Given some of the chatter in the room and on Twitter, folks thought that her viz was a story given that the age and cause of death was not based on hard facts (they are based on actuarial data). What I find funny is that Kim stated that stories remind her of fiction. Some of the response to her viz was that because the lives stolen section wasn't based in fact, then it's a data story. Ummmm, so that's where I think, didn't she just prove out her point? I take a look at the gun deaths viz and I love it. I love the look and I love the message and I'm not one to let the use of projections get in my way from comprehending the message (if that were the case, no one would look at business vizzes with projections). She came out with a bold statement and while Kim may have been trying to persuade us that data stories are bad and data documentaries are good, at the end of the day, it's her opinion. Maybe she's right. Maybe she's wrong. It's up to me to listen to what she said, what she showed, and make up my mind for myself. So where do I fall on the great story/documentary debate? I'm fine with data stories because we can have fiction and non-fiction. But unless someone is just lying or embellishing beyond belief, wouldn't all data stories be non-fiction? I have a questioning personality, so even though I love the work of Periscopic and their Do Good with Data tag line, I'm not just going to accept what is stated without thinking about it myself. I was even thinking about what she discussed in the final keynote talk by Michael Austin. I actually want to review his discussion again so I can glean some practical takeaways I might apply to either blogging or my data stories.
Weaving together other threads
The short stories were awesome. I especially liked Ben Jones's work on Seven Data Story Types as a thought starter. They all made sense (and were referenced in subsequent talks)!
I also had the chance to hang out a little with R.J. Andrews, whose work you might have seen on the Creative Routines visualization. R. J. is smart and creative (and as I learned, moving to Kenya for a few months). He thought one of the reasons why one of his visualizations went viral is because the reader could relate...Geniuses sleep and so do I...they're just like us! (there's that humanizing your work thing again).
Check out the little video I took of R.J.'s Bloom visualization.
One of the cool things about Tapestry is that you get to see what other folks are doing in the Demo Room. Last year I zipped through. This year though, I couldn't spend enough time in there. I saw a cool data discovery project from the folks at the Microsoft Garage. And Jeffrey Shaffer and Allan Walker are totally taking visualization to a whole other level. While it was one part movie-fantasy with being able to control a viz by moving your hand in the air like a conductor (yes!), a user could also speak commands. How effing fantastic is that for accessibility?!!? It is literally a game changer so that everyone can experience a visualization! Other folks like Nelson Davis and Mark Jackson discussed their data stories which were done in Tableau using the story points feature. There was also a group, the Global Forest Watch that provides data (and the visual) on changing environment and forestation. And I can't forget about a group that was highlighting their e-book for beginners on data analysis and design, which you can access here.
I met fantastic folks, got to catch up and have great conversations. This year felt more show and tell than last year, but still quite valuable. Tapestry conference is great if you want to be a data story-teller, develop a data documentary, or are a data journalist. A big shout out to the one, the only Dan Murray, who gave me a ride to the conference. And a super big shout out to the those behind Tapestry for hosting a solid event! I think it's awesome that you can tell that the organizers are passionate about data story-telling. And doesn't that just make a for a great story?
As part of my Do Something goal and inspired by SNL40, I made this little viz. It's not perfect, but it's something. I'm actually looking forward to playing with this viz even more. Big props to Matt Francis for giving me the idea and to Andy Kriebel for suggesting a Gantt chart (which is actually the first one I've done)!
WE Viz 2015
Hey everyone! Women's History Month is approaching and to celebrate it, I thought it would be awesome if we could get a gallery of women's empowerment visualizations and stories. As a result, I'm hosting my first ever virtual data viz event called Women's Empowerment Viz 2015 (aka WE Viz 2015). I felt compelled to take action as a result of a Bread for the World/ Help Me Viz hackathon I attended last year. It was through that hackathon that I felt like it wasn't fair that that in some parts of the world children are stunted because there isn't enough money to put food on the table. One contributing factor is that for various reasons, women are not economically empowered in parts of the world. Stunting is a major issue, but there are other issues, like pay equity or paid maternal/paternal leave. These are not just lady issues; they are family issues. I have always believed that if we have the ability to make something right, we should take action. Side note: with this attitude, it's a wonder I haven't been involved in protests or arrested. I guess I use my powers wisely.
Check out this little clip about WE Viz
Be a #datadogooder and participate in #WEViz 2015. Check out the WEViz page for more information and don't forget to register through Eventbrite, as I have a little something for participants. Additionally, I want to acknowledge participants so I'll do shout outs through social media, blog posts, and the podcast. It's a great way to do some good and to get more visibility for your work.
My hope is that through this event, people become more aware of the issues and that a visualization or a story will resonate with someone and they take some of kind of action to make the world a little better place. Change can be slow, but often times worth it.
You can also put a data item on the view and view underlying data. What's nifty is that if you really wanted to, you could copy and export the underlying data table to excel. The one use case that I like (especially if you're using two monitors), is to see the data in excel and work with the data in Tableau.
Over the last month or two, I've had a couple of people talk to me about difficult it is to see the data in Tableau. [Brakes screeching]. Say what??? That's Tableau's thing. What do you mean?
What I've learned from talking with folks is that one thing that they like about Excel is that they can see what data they have and then go and build charts, graphs, or pivot tables from it. And it's not so apparent in Tableau. While Tableau is all about the data, it seems to be more about data discovery while putting the data on the view. That works for a lot of folks. But there are others that are bridging the gap from another tool to Tableau or they want to know what they're working with before they actually build something.
So, I found five easy peasy ways to see the data (and there are others, I'm sure).
1) The data connection window
Once you Go to Worksheet, you'll have all the data right at your fingertips. But what if you want to see it again before putting something on the view? No problem! There are a few ways to get at your data.
2) Click the table icon
What's This About?
After using Tableau in my last position, I'm now a data viz hobbyist and this is my little slice of world dedicated to data visualization...typically Tableau related.
Vizzed and Confused?