Day 7: The Power of Visualization

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I am indebted to Spencer for teaching us his formulas for some of our data. I am not the most skilled person with Excel. For my work on the Sacred Heart, I’ve always wanted to make a chart like the above of the percentages of Sacred Heart texts published in different countries in the eighteenth century.  I probably should have Googled it and learned earlier, but I didn’t and know I’m not sure why.

And look at how beautifully it displays my data (disclaimer: it is not all input; this represents only 71 texts out of hundreds–stay tuned). In a simple, straightforward manner, it conveys that Mexico published many texts on the Sacred Heart between 1700–1850. I was only able to develop such a nice pie chart after inputing my data into a spreadsheet. This also required me to tidy my data; it turns out it was really messy!

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Our discussions over the past several days have impressed upon me the necessity of tidy data. While I always organize my research (my data), I realize that this doesn’t necessarily translate to tidiness. Creating a few excel spreadsheets with this in mind, I was able to make the pie chart above as well as input my data into a few other programs that visualized it in different ways. I also input some of it into Timeline JS. Rather than input individual items one-by-one–and with nothing to show but the final product–the detailed, tidy spreadsheets I’ve been working on this week transfer between many programs and platforms. I see this transferability as an essential ingredient for any project, particularly at the early stages of it when you might explore and tinker.

I’m also going to experiment further with Palladio. It offered interesting possibilities for data visualization that could be useful for my project.

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