Shortly after publishing “the first one” I started to think about the experience of downloading Tableau and what to do next. I thought, watching the videos is cool and experimenting with the Superstore dataset is also good, but it can get old pretty fast as well. That’s why I thought my second post should be about open data and where to find it.
Back in 2006 Professor Hans Rosling did a TED Talk which he called “The best stats you’ve ever seen”, go and watch it, it’s worth it. At the end of the talk Professor Rosling talks about how governments are hopeless at dealing with the large amount of data that’s being generated by advances in technology. Fast forward 9 years and nowadays most governments and large public organizations have created websites, libraries and storage areas where the public can download their data and use it in their analysis. There are also API’s and other methods of data extraction but I’ll focus on excel spreadsheets and text files which you can query using Tableau Public.
Ideally all data would be structured, clean and well prepared for analysis; the reality however is quite different, data sets often have weird date formats and sometimes missed data throughout the series. But don’t let that stop you from starting to use Open Data and visualize it in Tableau, the more people use that data, the more pressure we can put on the governments and institutions to make that data well-structured and easily available.
Where to find it:
Quandl is your supermarket for open data, it offers access to millions of data from finance, social stats and loads more.
As you’d expect Tableau wouldn’t give you this amazing tool without also supporting you in your data search. That’s why in Tableau Public you have a series of datasets covering Titanic passenger lists, NFL stats, volcanic eruptions as well many others.
One last tool; sites often have lists of data or maybe we would like to get the data from a retail website like IKEA and if you like me lack the ability to code to extract that data it can be quite frustrating. Recently import.io launched a free service that extracts data from websites. It’s not yet perfect and sometimes you have to nudge it a bit in order to get the data you want, but it’s free and an amazing addition to those like you and I who want to visualize as much data as possible.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for the amazing support for ivisualize.co.uk during the past week. It just shows how amazing this little (but growing) community is.