Homework Week 3(Due Sep 25)

You have three assignments this week. You’re going to clean a campaign finance data set, read a bit about choropleth maps and find a data set for next week that includes geographic information.

1: Clean a dataset We walked through Refine in class. Now it’s your turn: head over to the NYC Campaign Finance Board and download contribution data for a recent candidate or grab an expenditures report from their data library. Refine it. (Keep in mind that opening Refine usually launches Safari, but you’ll have better luck if you open that url — http://127.0.0.0:3333 — in Chrome or Firefox). Cluster the entries to clean the data of misspellings and other errors, and use facets to filter occupations, dates, contributions, employers, locations, or anything that seems interesting. And then: write us a nut graf. You don’t have to find a story that is showstopping breaking news, but you have to find something to say about who is donating to the candidate or how they’re spending money.

If you need a refresher on Refine, you can walk back through the exercise we led in class (post should be up by Thursday AM), or try one of these two tutorials, both from School of Data:

Export your refined records as a csv and send it in with your homework.

Good examples of the kinds of stories you can write with this data, from Gothamist Shady Groups Spend “Unprecedented” Amount Of Cash In Mayoral Election and from The New York Times, Loophole in a Rule on Ad Spending, Group Financed by Business Leaders Has Put Nearly $7 Million Into Council Races. The Times also built a nice interactive guide to How Much the N.Y.C. Mayoral Candidates Have Raised and Spent — they haven’t updated it since September 2, and it just goes to show that it takes more than money to win an NYC primary race, but you’ve got the data.

2: Read Taking care of your choropleth maps and XKCD on mapping

3: Find one dataset that has geographic information and make sure you can open it in a spreadsheet. If you’re clever, you’ll find data you need for reporting you’re working on in another class or something you want to look at towards a project pitch for our class. You don’t have to send it to us, but you do have to tell us what it is, where you found it, and why it is interesting. By “where you found it” we need enough information that we can track it down and look for ourselves.

When you’ve done all that, you’re going to send Russell and Amanda one email. The subject should be “Homework Week 3” and you’ll include two things in the body of the email: your nut graf and a description and link of your geographic data. Attach your refined campaign finance file.

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