Assignment

Due: Thursday, September 24
Points: 5

Deliverables

Make a copy of this Google spreadsheet and place it into the Google Drive folder you’ve made for this class. Fill out the three sheets as described in the requirements.

Requirements

  • Create a Google Drive folder for this class and name it PADJO2015-JDOE, except put your own first initial and last name in place of “JDOE”. This is where much of your class work will go.

  • Make the folder viewable and editable by me, i.e. dun@stanford.edu

  • Make a copy of this Casual Spreadsheet and place it in your own PADJO2015 folder. By default, it should be visible by me because it’s in the folder.

  • Fill out the 3 sheets (after deleting the examples I’ve given) with 5 entries each.

  • local-restaurants - Local places to eat that you’ve liked or at least have eaten at.

  • people-to-fbi-foia - List relatively well-known and deceased persons whom you are interested in asking the FBI for their files. Make sure you can’t already find their FBI file posted somewhere on the Internet.

  • twitter-news - List news-related Twitter accounts that you follow.

Spreadsheets shouldn't just be used when you need to crunch data. They're a great tool for organizing all types of data, whether it's a todo-list or even your reporting notes. Think of using a spreadsheet as a drafting tool for journalism. The extra overhead of a spreadsheet gives you the ability to easily sort and filter your information; you can always dump it into a regular text file when you have a better idea of the scope and shape of information you need to collect.

In this exercise, you're asked to make a copy of this workbook and fill out its 3 sheets (5 entries each). This could easily be done in a traditional, straight-forward list (e.g. "Hey, tell me your 5 favorite local restaurants").

But by collecting it in a spreadsheet, we make it very easy to organize data not just on a per-person basis, but to combine the data contributed by many people. This is the foundation for (sanely) conducting a crowdsourced, distributed data project.

References

A nice essay by Backchannel on how the invention of the humble spreadsheet “unleashed the power of business modeling—and created an entrepreneurial boom”

Google Forms | google.com

Google’s handy tool for creating free online surveys that feed directly into Google Spreadsheets.

Resources and articles about how to request files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation via FOIA.

A short overview of the importance of spreadsheets