In the spring of 2014, I (Jen Jack Gieseking) taught Data Driven Societies with Eric Gaze. A geographer and a mathematician, a social scientist and a natural scientist, working together with 35 students with very diverse backgrounds and interests sought to answer one question: what can data visualization reveal and obscure about the world’s increasing obsession with all things data?
Students selected a social justice hashtag of their choice that related to issues of identity, privacy, economics, politics, or the environment. Over a month, students scraped Twitter data on their hashtag. (A hashtag is a term with a # in front of it that hyperlinks to all uses of the term that can range from #stopandfrisk and #smog to #gobears.) As students read media and conducted research about the issue they had chosen to study, they also began to create graphs, maps, and network analyses from the Twitter data as well as a related dataset they had to find and bring to class. Students left the class with not only a basic understanding of software such as Excel, R, Social Explorer, CartoDB, and Gephi, but also a much more critical eye on the procurement, organization, and manipulation of data.
The outcomes were impressive and inspiring. Many of the students agreed to share their papers and/or presentations publicly, all of which are listed below or you can scroll through them at your leisure. Besides the work by students that you can find here, you can find our course description and syllabus here from an earlier post. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did making them!