Earlier this month, we issued a challenge to our users: show us your data! And we're not talking about the data you collect for your work. We want users to find the data in their everyday lives! Inspired by the Dear Data book and blog, we want to help our users find creative ways to explore data and share visualizations with other users.

As promised, we have an example of a Dear Data visualization I produced. Over the course of the holiday season, I collected data on the cards we received. I knew I wanted to compile a list of card recipients but I also wanted to learn a little more about the geography of our card senders. After New Year's Day, I had assembled a spreadsheet of names and addresses, and while this feels like simple data, I had the opportunity to think about a few questions:

  • What is the variation/distribution of states among our card senders?
  • What is our relationship to the card sender?
  • How far did the cards have to travel?

To understand the variation/distribution of states, I would have to create a Pivot Table counting the states in the data. To understand the relationship with the sender, I would have to create a typology (e.g. friend from college, friend from home, family members) and then add a column to the spreadsheet coding up the addresses. To understand distance traveled, I would have to geocode the addresses and calculate point to point distances.

All of these analyses were possible with the data I collected and I chose a simple analysis to visualize: the distribution of states. While I was not surprised to learn that close to half of the cards came from our home state, I was very surprised to discover the origins of many cards were pretty far out of state. I thought about how to group this information and settled on the number of cards and some state outlines clustered together. I did some sample sketches and settled in on the resulting visualization below.

Now it is your turn! In our original blog post, we encouraged users to collect data on their New Year's resolutions for one week and create a visualization for us using a new tool other than Excel. Get creative: break out the markers and pencils and brainstorm new and different ways to reach an audience. 

Please send us your visualization by January 25th (send them to rlw@ctdata.org) and we will share our favorites in an upcoming blog post.

Happy visualizing!

The L-W Family Card Inventory Viz