One ambitious data visualisation fail…

I thought it might be interesting to actually make an interesting visualisation of a current news story.

So first I picked my data. UKuncut have obviously been in the news a lot, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how frequently UKuncut protests were held in different parts of the country.

Taking a look at the UKUncut website I found that it lists all its previous actions. Excellent, this should be easy.

Not so. The format they have been posted made it pretty much impossible to cut and paste the data in any way within my skills, so I began the laborious task of entering them all (almost 350 of them) into an Excel spreadsheet.

Two hours later I realised I had made a stupid mistake. Though I had entered in a location for each action, no computer program would be abl;e to just read “Aberdeen” and translate that into a marker on a map. So I went back and added aproximate postcodes for each and every action location. This took even longer as I had to look each location up on Google and guess an approximate postcode. So another three hours later, I was ready to have a go at using my data tool of choice: Many Eyes.

This is a lovely and simple piece of software to use to create a range of different visualisations of data, some simple some not so. I went straight for a map of the UK. After a fair amount of fiddling around with formats I was reacdy to go, two columns, one a list of postcodes, and another showing how many times an action had taken place there. Just put it into the software and…

FAIL.

It had failed to recognise nearly every postcode, despite my best efforts to put it into the right format.

I will crack this over the next few days, but this is just another exapmple of how data journalism can be frustrating and time consuming.

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