JFDI Method to Learning Data Visualization

I’m starting a new job as a Data Visualization Manager in August.  And I need to get my chops up and JFDI.  I was hired more on potential based on an unusual a skill set combination more than raw pre-existing Data Visualization skills and experience.

I’d done some previous work in Data Visualization working at a Research Assistant at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab doing exploratory data analysis studying Soccer Fan Behavior and in a Techniques of Information Visualization course at USC.  I also have some programming skills from attending Hackbright Academy prior to getting a Master of Communication Management at USC, which I recently finished.

Before school, I’d work for five years in Silicon Valley in a variety of roles in the start-up, ad agency, and corporate spaces, but mostly focused on digital marketing.  I developed a high understand of how the business works and the technical challenges involved.  I was hired, and I’m paraphrasing some of their words, for the rare combination of previous business and technical acumen in the digital marketing space, some hacking skills, and a critical understanding of advertising, communication, and data from graduate coursework and working as a researcher.  I’m extremely happy to get back into digital marketing, it’s a space I’d like to stay in, and I’m extremely excited for my new role.  However, I’m definitely need to bridge the gap in many ways, transitioning back into a full-time role from working as a graduate student and researcher.  Also, while this is not a field change, but it is definitely a career change.

The too obvious issue here for me is that I while I’ve been hired to manage data visualization and creation processes, I currently can’t build sophisticated data visualization on my own.  I’m happy and extremely capable of working as product manager type, but I also want to be more deadly than that.

I’ve just not been satisfied with my coding skills.  Unlike my follow Hackbright graduates, I didn’t become and don’t want to become a full-time Software Engineer.  For me, it’d be a pay cut, and my skill set combination is what I bank on and enjoy deploying.  However, the coding is more weaker than I’d like simply because of time constraints and an honest lack of interest in projects I want to build.  This is now the perfect opportunity to improve and do something I’m extremely interested in and would enjoy doing.

When I was learning to code, I came across Jennifer Dewalt’s 180 Website in a 180 Days. 


She mentioned how she just needed to JFDI.  I feel the say way.  I’m going to do a more modified version.  I need to do one or more of the following for the next 180 Days straight, with an ideal of all.  This is forcing me to essentially JFDI.

  • Present a new Data Visualization and walk through it or show improvements on a previous project and walk through it.
  • Analyze a visualization quick yet deeply with the following questions
    • What are the:
      • Variables
      • Data Types
      • Encodings
    • What works well here?
    • What does not work well and what would I improve?
    • What is the data source?  Do I see any problems with how it’s cited/used?
    • Any other comments about what I learned?
  • Summarize Tutorials/Work done for the day