What is data?

GEOG 30323

January 18, 2024


Course goals


What is data?

Brainstorm: how might you use data if you were…

  • …a librarian?
  • …a police officer?
  • …a small shoe store owner?
  • …a general manager of a professional basketball franchise?


Source: technical.ly


Source: Humayun Khan/Shopify


Source: Kirk Goldsberry/ESPN

Data science

Source: The Onion

Science and business: StitchFix

What you will learn in this course

This course covers the process of exploratory data analysis, which includes how to:

  • Find data
  • Load data
  • Clean data
  • Summarize data
  • Visualize data
  • Present data
  • Example question: what are the most popular female baby names in Texas, and how has this changed over time?

Finding data

Source: Social Security Administration

Loading and cleaning data

Summarizing data

Visualizing data

Presenting data


  • Your main tool: the Python programming language
  • More to come on Python next week!

Google CoLab

Assignment 1: Data journalism

Your task:

  • Find an example of data journalism from the past five years in a recognized publication
  • Write a response that 1) summarizes the article, 2) discusses its data sources, and 3) discusses its methods of analysis and visualization.
  • At least one paragraph, no longer than four paragraphs