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This is a rather whimsical post that I found several years ago. As we may be approaching the end of our time on Posterous in earnest now, I thought I would share it. Keep in mind that it was written by a teacher with over ten years of experience. That’s important, as teaching is an avocation in its own right, as much a learned expertise as the subject matter being taught.

Freshly-generated random numbers for fresh data visualizations

The proprietors of BlPrnt blog took a refreshing approach to data visualization instruction. It lacks certain aspects of mathematical rigor insofar as the not-so-randomness of the random number methodology. That isn’t relevant here, as the purpose is not cryptography! Nor must it pass muster with Monte Carlo simulation’s pseudo-random number generators of the sort that I used.

A tutorial using your own not-quite-random numbers as the data

Over the last year or so, I’ve spent almost as much time thinking about how to teach data visualization as I’ve spent working with data. We’re not going to work with an old, dusty data set here. Nor are we going to attempt to bash our heads against an unnecessarily complex pile of numbers. Instead, we’re going to start with a data set that I made up – with the help of a couple of hundred of my Twitter followers. Yesterday morning, I posted this request:

random data viz by blprnt

It’s about time to get down to some coding. The only tricky part in this whole process will be connecting to the Google Spreadsheet. Just to make sure we’re all in the same place, you should see a screen that looks like this…

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