[ddj] we are beta launching our new tool, Xtraktr

ericnbarrett at gmail.com ericnbarrett at gmail.com
Fri Sep 25 06:57:40 UTC 2015

There is a lot of energy right now in experimenting in Georgia to see if we
can't be more effective as journalists and civil society agents. Our team
in JumpStart <http://jumpstart.ge> is really trying to more engaging
using data, <http://feradi.info/en/visualizations> and what we are finding
is that there isn't a lot of tools that fit our needs, so we build them.
Tools like Xtraktr <http://xtraktr.jumpstart.ge/en> and Storybuilder
<http://storybuilder.jumpstart.ge/en> are our answer to that, but not for
their own sake, but as a means to tell better stories that more people
read. This is an issue everywhere, but in Georgia, we find that there is
little public discourse about some of the more complex issues. And just
because these issues are complex, we don't think they should be ignored. On
the contrary. I know that sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised the
lengths we've seen journalists in Georgia go to avoid having to work for a
living ;).

Transparency International Georgia, <http://transparency.ge> where I used
to work, also does a lot of data work to track areas that tend to be high
risk for corruption and they build tools to that end. We try to work with
them, too, when our goals overlap.

In general, while we do our own work at JumpStart, we are pleased to have
had a profound impact on what local journalists and civil society agents
now expect from themselves and others. Reports and superficial storytelling
is no longer the standard, or it is looked down upon as lazy (at least,
that is what is starting to happen). We hope to see a lot more innovation
in the future by agents of change in the country for storytelling and and
among activists and watchdogs.


On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 9:33 PM, Marcelo Träsel <marcelo.trasel at gmail.com>

> By the way, Eric, I've been noticing a lot of digital tools coming out of
> Georgia recently.
> What's going on there?
> ______________
> marcelo träsel
> http://www.trasel.com.br
> 2015-09-24 8:48 GMT-03:00 ericnbarrett at gmail.com <ericnbarrett at gmail.com>:
>> Hi everyone,
>> I would like to share something we've been working on at JumpStart -
>> Xtraktr <http://xtraktr.jumpstart.ge/en>. Xtraktr is a data tool which
>> makes working with survey data easier, but not just survey data.
>> We had a local need in Georgia (the country) to make it easier for
>> organizations to publish their data since our work is so dependent on
>> access to datasets that describe the issues so important in our country. We
>> thought to reduce any obstacles preventing orgs from publishing their
>> survey and other data online. We also wanted to start to create a catalogue
>> of local datasets so we and anyone else could find them and use them.
>> Fortunately, ePaństwo Foundation <http://epf.org.pl/en/> invited us to a
>> hackathon last year where we got to start working on it. Then UNICEF in
>> Georgia <http://unicef.ge/> asked us to build a data portal using their
>> survey data, which allowed us to build out our tool as we (and they, of
>> course) wanted, but get funding for it :).
>> Xtraktr makes it easy to upload and explore a dataset, but really excels
>> at survey data and you can easily upload an SPSS or Stata file, as well as
>> a CSV or XLSX file. Once uploaded you can do a whole bunch of configuration
>> so tailor what users will see. We really couldn't find free tools that were
>> easy to use that made it easy to do something with an SPSS file. We wanted
>> journalists and NGOs to be able to do more with survey data than what they
>> currently do without huge fees.
>> The code for the application is open source
>> <https://github.com/JumpStartGeorgia/Xtraktr>, but you can use our
>> hosted version <http://xtraktr.jumpstart.ge/en> if you like. You can
>> easily create an account, and you can create an organizational account,
>> too, once you create your own account and invite other people to become
>> members of the organizations.
>> When you upload a dataset, you can choose which datasets are public or
>> private. Once 'extracted', Xtraktr creates a codebook of your questions and
>> answers (variables). You can edit the questions and answers, choose which,
>> if any, you don't want to include in the publicly explorable dataset, or
>> which answers you want to enable the users to exclude from the analysis.
>> Any dataset you upload automacally gets added to a restful API
>> <http://xtraktr.jumpstart.ge/en/api> with which you can interact with
>> the data using URLs and get JSON responses.
>> You can make a variable mappable by mapping it against a shape set. You
>> can upload new shape sets in GeoJSON format if you need to. This enables a
>> choropleth map of single variables.
>> You can weight questions by adding one or more weights and match weights
>> to one or more of your questions.
>> You can explore categorical variables as single variables (bar, pie, map,
>> table) or cross tabulate them (stacked bar, table). You can filter the
>> data.
>> All visualizations are widgets that you can download or embed in other
>> online media.
>> In addition, you can translate a dataset (questions and answers,
>> explanatory notes, categories and even the application interface) into as
>> many languages as you like. Xtraktr makes it easy be enabling a mass
>> changes spreadsheet that you then re-upload with the new translations and
>> any other edits you like to the texts.
>> Currently, you can only visualize categorical data - this is a result of
>> the initial survey focus. However, we are presently working to enable
>> visualizing and exploring relationships of integers/floats and that should
>> be ready in a month or two (hopefuly)!
>> To conclude this long explanation, I'd love to hear your thoughts and see
>> if this meets any of your case uses and if there are features you like or
>> things that you think we need to improve. Also, if you would like to
>> collaborate on this, we would also love to know that too :).
>> Looking forward to your feedback,
>> Eric
>> ---
>> Eric Barrett
>> Executive Director
>> JumpStart Georgia <http://jumpstart.ge/en>
>> Check out Feradi Info <http://feradi.info/en>!
>> Check out Xtraktr <http://xtraktr.jumpstart.ge/en>!
>> Check out the Lari Explorer <http://lari.jumpstart.ge/en>!
>> Check out StoryBuilder <http://storybuilder.jumpstart.ge/>!
>> eric at jumpstart.ge
>> +995 595 13 92 69
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