Open Source Data Vis: Using Open Office Calc

My goals for this internship at GFW are:

  1. identify and develop visualizations to help this foundation illustrate their grant making decisions and activity
  2. to teach people how to do this using open source software or tools that are easily and inexpensively available
  3. to develop some additional visualizations to illustrate the context of the grant making — to illustrate the social, political, environmental context of the work
  4. to develop some additional visualizations to illuminate network structure and movement building mechanisms

1.  My search for tools is over.  The conclusion of my search for vis tools is a bit unglamorous, but grounded.  I’m using Open Office Calc.  It’s free, installed on computers at the office, is powerful — seemingly with an equal number of chart options as Excel, certainly enough to develop charts for reports.  An additional perk is that, if the foundation begins using this as a key tool and grantees become aware and interested in learning how to use this software to develop similar visualization, they can also do so freely because the software is open source.

2. This is based on 1 — my first workshop is scheduled for a few weeks from now.  I’ll update on how that goes and publish the guide I’m developing then.  This is basically a crash course in info vis consisting mostly of an explanation of the process we followed to choose and develop charts for a specific report and what is basically a user manual to using the chart features of Open Office Calc, but with examples specific to this organization’s work.

3 and 4.  Still very much in pre-production.  I’m using a data set that a previous intern collected regarding migration and migrant-focused organizations in Asia/Oceania and am in search of other data sets from outside the organization that can help me to contextualize migration — what drives migration, what drives migrants rights movements — looking very broadly now at data about migration due to conflict and climate change and about labor issues like trade policy changes and the economic crisis.  I’m talking with a former classmate from UC Berk iSchool about developing some of the network diagram/movement building visualizations together.  Excited to see where it leads.

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