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Mapping Data Made Easy

By the end of the Fusion Tables tutorial, you can create a useful population map of the Bay Area.

Wow. I’m loving Google more and more every day. It seems like they have a free service for just about anything you can imagine. Although I’ve heard about Google Fusion Tables before, I hadn’t really looked into it – until today.

First, I mapped a couple addresses and did simple things like change the color of the markers. Then, I went through this handy tutorial, which showed how to merge tables with publicly available data to create more powerful maps with polygons colored based on selected variables.

By the end of the day, I created a map of all the school districts in California. Next step, add metadata like district API scores.

Data Is the New Punk

“There are a few steps beyond just learning three chords when doing data journalism.”

I knew I was onto something when I got into data. As this article by Simon Rogers points out, data journalism is the new punk. Anyone can learn it, thanks to free tutorials, references, and tools online, and create compelling data visualizations right in their bedroom. As Dan Sinker, a former editor for Punk Planet, says in the article:

Where I think there are more parallels are in the fact that this is a young community (in years if not always age), and one that’s actively teaching itself new tricks every day. That same vitality and excitement that motivated punk, it’s motivating news hackers right now.”