Interesting Tool of the Week: Quadrigam – Connecting two visualizers
Aug 18th, 2015 by Tom Johnson

Take me to Quadrigam

Connect two visualizers

All of the charts have input data and output data. You can synchronize two charts just using the output data element of the first chart as the input data element of the second chart. You can even build formulas based on data outputs, like for instance using the element selected in a control list to be part of a formula which filters a given datasset based on one column which elements match with the selected element in the control list. Charts use to have two main data outputs:

  • On over: When on over with the mouse, the element will be the data output of that chart.
  • Selection: When clicking on a given element of a chart (e.g: a serie in a Line chart) that will be the output element that can be synchronize with another chart. In Maps, we also have “zoom” and “center” which make super easy to syncrhonize, for instance, two maps (the zoom and center of the first map act as input data elements of the second map).
PDF Tables: Outstanding tool extracts tables to Excel
Jun 13th, 2015 by Tom Johnson

I just gave this a spin using the City of Santa Fe 2015 budget, a 150-pager.  Seemed to be very fast in the conversion and quite accurate.  Unless you need the text, it is even faster if you edit out text pages and just run those pages containing the desired tables.  The result is that each page becomes a separate Excel page, then they can be sliced-and-diced as necessary.

Kudos to the ScraperWiki folks.

Accurately extract tables from PDFs
No more time consuming and error prone copying and pasting


Simulations becoming third way to find scientific truth
May 6th, 2014 by Tom Johnson

Simulation modeling has been one of the cornerstones of the IAJ since its founding 20+ years ago.  Nice to see other disciplines catching up.  (That’s a joke, kid.)

Simulations becoming third way to find scientific truth  —

Computer simulation is increasingly being used as a third method to establish scientific truth, alongside theory and experimentation. Astrophysicist Kevin Heng breaks down the pros and cons of computer simulations in a perspective piece in American Scientist. “Simulations as a third way of establishing scientific truth are here to stay. The challenge is for the astrophysical community to wield them as transparent, reproducible tools, thereby placing them on an equally credible footing with theory and experiment,” he writes.

Another fine tool for slicing and dicing data….
Nov 9th, 2010 by Tom Johnson

From …..

Find the names in your data with Mr. People

November 8, 2010 to Online Applications | Post on Twitter

Inspired by Shan Carter's simple data converter, appropriately named Mr. Data Converter, Matthew Ericson just put Mr. People online. The tool lets you paste a list of names, and it will parse the first and last name, suffix, title, and other parts for you. You can even have multiple names in a single row.

Years ago, while trying to clean up the names of donors in campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission, I hacked together a Perl module — loosely based on the Lingua-EN-NameParse module — to standardize names. One port to Ruby later, I've finally put together a Web front end for it.

Getting data in the right format, whether for analysis or visualization, can be a huge pain. Imagine. All the data you need is right in front of you, but you can't do anything with it yet, because as often is the case, it's not in a nice and pretty rectangular format. So anything that makes this easier and quicker is an instant bookmark for me.

[Mr. People via @mericson]


Ramping up your statistical skills
Sep 3rd, 2010 by Tom Johnson

From FlowingData….

Statistical literacy guides for the basics

Sep 3, 2010 to Statistics | Post on Twitter

Guide to statistical charts - before and after

“You can get pretty far with data graphics with just limited statistical knowledge, but if you want to take your skills, resume, and portfolio to the next level, you should learn standard data practices. Of all places, UK Parliament has some short and free guides to help you with basic statistical concepts. They provide 13 notes, each only two or three pages long that can help you with stuff like how to adjust for inflation, confidence intervals and statistical significance, or basic graph suggestions [pdf]. I like.”



Reporting Complexity (with Complexity)
Mar 31st, 2010 by Tom Johnson

“Reporting Complexity (with Complexity): General Systems Theory, Complexity and Simulation Modeling

See the PPT slides from a vid-conference lecture from Santa Fe to

School of Public and Environmental Affairs
School of Journalism 
COURSE: Mass Media & Public Affairs
March 31, 2010

Applied Complexity in Havana
Mar 28th, 2010 by Tom Johnson

In January, Team Santa Fe (Tom Johnson, Steve Guerin, Nick Bennett, and Alfredo Covaledo [Bogota]) rolled up in Havana to attend the 10th Congress of Complexity Studies in Cuba. (Steve, Nick and Alfredo also taught a day-long workshop on Netlogo and simulation modeling following the conference.)

One of the conference attendees from the Univ. of Guanajuato (Mexico) shot some footage of Steve's Simtable demos and also a lecture by Dr. Niles Eldredge. Those videos can be seen here:

-tom johnson

UPDATED: Inflation Conversion Factors for Dollars 1774 to Estimated 2019
Oct 1st, 2009 by analyticjournalism

Here at the IAJ, we have long been a fan — and user — of Prof. Robert Sahr's “Inflation Conversion Factors” web site and tools.  We were snoozing at the switch a bit and didn't notice that Sahr updated the site in early June 2009.  Check it out: it's filled with both PDF and Excel data/tools to calculate the comparative costs of most anything from 1774 to 2019.  The site also includes some fun data:

The charts on the following topics are available either by scrolling down or by selecting the appropriate link:

          Price levels and the US economy

          Millionaires Then and Now

          Pay of Presidents and Members of Congress

     Selected Government-related Items (number of government employees, Social Security and AFDC/TANF; stamp prices, minimum wage, mean and median family income)

          Presidential Election Costs 1860 to 2000

     National Government Budget:  Outlays (Spending), Revenue, Deficits or Surpluses, and National Debt

          Selected Commodity Prices (gasoline and gold) [gasoline revised June 2009, using June 2009 price data and estimated 2009 dollar conversion factors]


          Budget Details


More insights into how and why journos can't deal with data
Sep 30th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

This tip comes from our friend Stephan Russ-Mohl, of the European Journalism Observatory.

Darned Statistics PDF Print E-mail
by Stephan Russ-Mohl   

European Journalism Observatory, September 26, 2009

 Many journalists face difficulties in dealing with statistics, and frequently lack the competence to present quantitative information to their publics in easy-to-grasp language.

This is nothing new, as most journalism textbooks contain tips on how to deal adequately with numbers and percentages. Thus far, these remain rules of thumb. Three U.S. researchers – Coy Callison, Rhonda Gibson and Dolf Zillmann – recently tested these rules. Drawing from 240 students who participated in an experiment, their empirical analysis provides new, surprising insights.

The test subjects could deal as easily with percentages as with absolute numbers. Contrary to textbooks, they experienced more difficulties when percentages were characterized verbally. For example, “30 percent of the citizens of XY have AIDS” has a meaning different from “3000 of the citizens of XY have AIDS” – but the percentage is no more difficult to grasp and remember. If, instead, the percentage is transformed into the phrase “Three of ten of the citizens of XY have AIDS,” an additional barrier of comprehension is created. The researchers mention, however, that their experiments should be expanded, and that less educated groups still need to be included.

Coy Callison et al.: How to Report Quantitative Information in News Stories, Newspaper Research Journal, Vol 30/Nr. 2, Spring 2009, 43-55.


Wondering what the prez is doing???
Sep 19th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

 We don't know how long this one's been around, but kudos to the gang at the WashPost for taking a concept/tool somewhat on the margin and putting it to good use for both reporters and readers. See

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