#Datafam Mentorship 2.0 & Brian Moore Has Our Viz of the Week

A Tableau-centric weekly blog about the data viz-making process, #datafam member interviews, Viz of the Week & entertainment for introverts (consisting of a music morsel & a binge bite).

This week, Tableau Public Featured Author & #TheSDGVizProject co-lead Vinodh Kumar V R (@VinodhDataArt) & I team up to launch our #Datafam Mentorship 2.0 initiative and Brian Moore (@BMooreWasTaken) has our Viz of the Week.

#Datafam Mentorship 2.0 Initiative

On May 17th Vinodh soft-launched a #datafam mentorship initiative. He created a spreadsheet to help people find mentors and seek people to mentor. It received a good response but got a little lost because it was a tweet and missed it was hard to see who was matched up and so forth. I get a ton of questions about resources and found myself looking for the spreadsheet quite a bit (I know, I should have ‘favorited’ it). (1)

Because Vinodh and I have been community friends for a long time and always wanted to work with him, I had an idea to make a couple of updates to not only directly assist with match-making mentors/mentees using skillsets, but also adding a little anonymity.

Why would I want to mentor Tableau via our #datafam?

Mentoring is the ultimate way of giving back. Personally, Tableau was a pivotal tool that enabled me to change careers from a non-tech training position to a data analyst after 40 years of age. When I advanced as a data analyst (from analyst, senior to a specialist in a series of reclasses), not only did I personally need to find a community… but it was imperative I could help others in the process. When discovering the #datafam community nearly one year ago and feeling my way around… ultimately, I knew I wanted to mentor at some point.

I had a couple false starts mentoring (the mentees and I weren’t a great fit), but I kept going and found two people who inspired me from skills and desire to find their way in the dataviz community. Since I took both on, I’ve continually been amazed and proud of what they have been able to achieve in design, engagement, and improvement. Also, I consider both very good friends. They are talented enough to make it on their own, but mentoring helps smooth out bumps, give them a trusted source of feedback, and/or a sounding board & paves the way for networking opportunities. It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s the greatest part or reason to be a mentor except it’s an amazing gift to be able to witness and see the growth of people you are working with and genuinely have a vested interest in. (2)

Mentorship can be utilizing skills more than using Tableau. If you feel more comfortable helping with soft skills, communicating dataviz (blogging, podcasts or videos), general networking, and/or etc … I’m sure you can be an incredible resource for someone that would love a guide in that arena.

MENTOR FORM

→ If you want to be a mentor for this initiative, please complete this form.

Why do I need a Tableau/#datafam mentor?

Beginning in Tableau, I had a quasi-work mentor. However, not knowing there was a community made my learning curve much slower and developed a ton of bad habits that I’m still unlearning. Getting the basics of the tool is one thing, but networking, expanding your portfolio, and challenging yourself will provide a way for you to learn quicker, smarter + make a ton of friends in the process. Having a #datafam mentor gives you a chance to navigate many resources most efficiently with a safety net.

You may have worked a ton with the tool and feel comfortable with design, but may need a mentor to help with soft skills, blogging or doing dataviz videos or podcasts — I’m sure mentor help on that can be arranged also.

Note: It’s not all roses. To be a successful mentee/student you need to be willing to learn/accept feedback, be consistent, and challenge yourself. There are many aspiring data vizzers and the mentors have limited time — make the most of both your time and apply the tools they curate or create for you.

MENTEE FORM

→ If you are interested in finding a #datafam mentor, please complete this form.

How can Vinodh and Adam’s initiative help me?

By filling out the form you are expressing interest. The questions are geared to help you (and/or us) determine good fits. We also want to give you a chance to maintain as much privacy as needed.

The forms for both entities are designed to get background, skills, and needs for both sides of the mentor coin. We want to get as many successful partnerships as possible because our experience has taught us that these unions are amazing for our community and will encourage a stronger/more successful #datafam.

The forms will automatically update the tracker (very limited visibility currently). We will communicate with those that volunteer to have or be a mentor to verify data is up to date and will make updates as needed.

Viz of the Week

Credit: Brian Moore — Black Heritage Trail (select the .gif for the interactive viz)

I asked Brian to share a few words about his viz because I love the viz, its interactivity, and its purpose.

Per Brian…

At our last Tableau User Group, a joint event with the Boston & North Texas TUGs, Kate Brown (@katebrown_5) closed out the meeting by announcing a Tableau challenge for July…to create a data viz about The Black Heritage Trail in Boston, MA (you can find more details on how to participate here). The rest of the Boston TUG leadership team is so thankful for all of the hard work that Kate put into launching this challenge. (3)

Boston is a city rich in American history, but there is so much more to our history than a bunch of guys throwing tea in the ocean. Boston has been the backdrop for countless pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights, dating as far back as the late 1700s, and many of these are featured along this 1.6-mile trail. I am going to be completely honest, and I’m ashamed to say it, but I have lived in Massachusetts my entire life and had never heard of the Black Heritage Trail, or the people, events, and sites that it features, until Kate brought the idea of this challenge to the rest of the Boston TUG Team.

I learned so much while working on this project. I am not going to go into too much detail here, but there are some incredibly fascinating events and people that I came across in my research. Like William and Ellen Craft. Ellen, a Black woman with a lighter complexion, disguised herself as a White southern gentleman, and William as her personal servant. The two escaped by hiding in plain sight and riding a train, first-class, all the way to Philadelphia. Soon after, the Crafts moved to Boston and stayed in the home of Lewis and Harriet Hayden, one of the sites on the BHT. When slave catchers from the south caught on and tracked the couple to Boston, Lewis Hayden told them about the two kegs of gun powder he kept at his front door, and that he would sooner blow up his house than surrender the Crafts. It wasn’t long before the slave catchers returned to the South empty-handed. Or the story of Shadrach Minkins. Minkins was a fugitive slave that escaped the south in 1850, just a few months before Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed federal agents to capture escaped slaves living in free states and to return them to their owners. After several failed attempts to secure Minkins’ release through legal means, a group of local activists known as the Boston Vigilance Committee entered the courtroom during his trial and rescued him by force. Nine abolitionists were indicted for their part in the daring rescue, but all of them were acquitted due to lack of evidence. These are just a couple of the fascinating stories from this area, but there are so many more.

For the design of the viz, I wanted to focus on the stories behind each of the stops and didn’t want to add too much that would take away from those stories. I went with a really text-heavy design, a monochrome color scheme that gives it kind of an “aged” feel, and a relatively simple-looking map. I wanted the map, which I had built in Mapbox, to cover the entire dashboard, but have the focus be on just the neighborhood with the Black Heritage Trail. To do this, I placed some blank, colored, semi-transparent, objects around that area to kind of “mute” the rest of the map. The next thing I wanted to do was add a dashed line to mark the trail as you progress through the stops. This ended up being way, way, way harder than I had originally thought. It’s a relatively minor detail in the viz, but it’s something that I thought was important to the design, so I spent way more time than I would like to admit making it happen. The last step was adding the images. I was fortunate to find public domain images of all the sites on Wikimedia commons, which I then modified to fit my color scheme. I love all the really cool stuff that the community has been doing with annotations lately, so I decided to go that route to incorporate the images into the map. The images are just a scatterplot of custom shapes, strategically placed around the map. Then for each of the annotations, I adjusted the position, so it was behind the image, adjusted the width, and then added a bunch of blank rows to adjust the height. In the worksheet with the annotations and the worksheet with the images, I’m filtering to just the current stop, to display just that image/annotation, and then there are separate, duplicate map views below those that show the previous marks and the dashed lines.

That’s about it. It’s a relatively simple viz (other than the dashed line lol), but I really enjoyed building it and enjoyed researching it even more. I also wanted to mention that a day after I published mine, Jacqui (my incredibly talented wife that taught me how to use Tableau), published her submission, and if you ask me, it’s waaayy better. It incorporates Google Map street views to virtually experience all of the stops on the Black Heritage Trail and it’s a lot of fun to explore. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already. If you would like to participate in the Boston TUG challenge (you don’t have to be from Boston), please check out the details here, and let me, Jacqui, Kate, Will, or Dustin know if you have any questions.

Binge Bite

Stephon Marbury was a misunderstood basketball star unfairly pegged as a selfish underachiever. This documentary digs into that and his rebirth as a caring, loved, and decorated champion in China. Give this a watch on Netflix!

Music Morsel

The Eurythmics were much more than ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. ‘Love is a Stranger’ combines Annie Lennox’s otherworldly vocals, beautiful synth, a dynamic production, + an arrangement that floods your ears with morsels of delicious candy. Enjoy!

Footnotes

1) There have been other past mentor-mentee initiatives, but do not know how up to date they are. Here is a great video from Mike Cisneros and Alicia Bembenek on the benefits of finding and being a Tableau Mentor.

2) The names of my mentees are Priya Padham (@p_padham)and Pawan Sachdeva (@PawanSTableau). I am not sharing in the standard text of the blog as they have achieved a lot and done so through their hard work.

3) The Boston TUG is one of the next TUGs I need to visit in-person once this pandemic chills.

#DataVizThoughts Editing Team

Adam Mico

Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public

Priya Padham

Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public

Keyrus US’ Tableau Evangelist and Tableau Ambassador. Views are very much my own. Priya Padham assists on #DataFam Interviews.

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