rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Fri Jul 30 16:10:35 BST 2010
On 30 July 2010 13:33, Tony Hirst <a.j.hirst at open.ac.uk> wrote:
> So after seeing Rufux, albeit briefly, earlier this week, i'm now feeling
> suitably guilty about not having been keeping up with how much stuff you've
> been managing to do around wdmmg...
Guilt is such a powerful motivating factor ;)
> Looking through the last few days msgs, and having a quick look at the
> budgetizer [ http://www.wheredoesmymoneygo.org/budget/budgetizer/ ] things
> that came to my mind were:
> - it seems to use google spreadsheets gdata list api rather than eg
> visualisation query language (
> http://code.google.com/apis/visualization/documentation/querylanguage.html )
> which is the one I've played with in the past. (Though looking at data api
> that's the one I guess Google support most heavily?).
> Is the google
> spreadsheets data api the "preferred" api for getting data out of google
> spreadsheets in anger? (Also, are you programmatically putting data into
No, there wasn't any special preference: it was just that a) I already
knew the data api b) I had not looked at query language stuff properly
c) for what we were doing the data api was good enough
However, looking at links now this looks really pretty excellent and
so your pointing this out is already really useful :)
> goog spreadsheets via the api, or uisng the UI to upload/paste in data? I
> think you can do more to structure data, eg defining logical tables (
> http://code.google.com/apis/spreadsheets/data/3.0/developers_guide_protocol.html#CreatingTableRecords )
> if data is submitted via the api. )
Interesting -- and something else I didn't know. At the moment it
seems that so much of the data is garnered by hand that that the UI is
the main way we load things.
> - have you looked at google fusion tables at all? Again, there's an api (
> http://code.google.com/apis/fusiontables/docs/developers_guide.html ) but
> other advantages include:
> - bigger tables;
> - ability to merge datasets and essentially "join" subsets of data from
> separate tables via a UI, as well as provision of interactive visuliastion
> tools within that environment.
Again, this stuff seems really cool -- almost too cool: it would be
nice to know of some open service  doing this kind of stuff ;) but
that's another thread
> What I've been mulling over lately is different sorts of users/ability to
> engage. So for example, budgetizer has interactive charts for an end user,
> but what about the step before that? eg suppose i am the person who has a
> big data set and is looking for the best ways of visualising it? Creating
> charts in google spreadsheets is one way for me to do that - visually
> playing with the data looking for the best representation that could then be
> used in a budgetizer like UI, but the interactive chart creation tools in
> Google Fusion tables is maybe even easier?
I think you've identified an important question about the different
levels of engagement we could expect. The main idea of the budgetizer
(which is Tim Hubbard's conception), is, as I perceive it, to
encourage and enable people to *dig* into the models, specifically:
a) investigate and question the existing models
b) create their own models (what if we capital gains by 10% or dropped
income tax by 5%)
It was particularly motivated by our experience looking at cuts
pre-budget where it was extraordinarily hard to get a grip on what was
going on, especially as regards one-off versus long-term changes, cuts
that took effect in the future and last for some period etc ...
So it is, I think, fundamentally about encouraging deep understanding
and engagement by making the underlying mechanisms of those models
completely transparent and presenting models in an easy to view way.
What we have done so far is a first step: getting down the
models/estimates created by the gov so far and show how radically they
have changed from pre-crisis to now.
> PS apologies if this has been discussed before, or is wildly off topic... I
> will try to keep up from now on... ;-)
None of the above, and your thoughts and contributions are hugely welcome ...
> PPS on the budgetizer UI, in chrome on a mac, unticking checkbox selectors
> for graph type doesn't seem to undraw the corresponding graphs?
Indeed, I was playing around with someone else on chrome on mac and it
seemed a bit flaky (e.g. it wouldn't show 1/2 the graphs on the first
load but would be fine on reload ...). Ack, browsers, where is thy
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