Join our Online Tableau Viz Contest!

What is an online viz contest? It’s an opportunity for you to share your work with a large community of interested people.

It’s easy to play:

  1. Go to Github ( and download the data source. There actually are two, in this case—one on volcanic eruptions, and one on earthquakes.
  2. Play with the data—and join other data sources to it. Did you know that the World Bank (and several other NGOs, like USAID) have tons of data? So does the EPA—emissions data might be fun to add.
  3. Think of awesome ways to spend the $200 gift card that you could win—or, we can donate it to charity on your behalf.
  4. Use Tableau Public to visualize something interesting, something that most of us probably don’t realize but is nonetheless important.
  5. Publish your workbook in Tableau Public before noon on 9/23, and tweet the URL to @ashleyswain with the hashtag, #TampaBayTUG
  6. Register for the Tampa Bay Tableau User Group meet-up at (We need your name and email so that we can track your visualization—and the votes that you get!)
  7. We’ll send you the WebEx if you can’t be there in person. (If you’re there in person, you can enjoy snacks and camaraderie.)
  8. At 5pm EDT on 9/23, login to the WebEx. Check out Jen Underwood’s presentation, and then around 5:45, we’ll give everyone who entered the contest five minutes to present. (So when you login to the WebEx, be sure that your name matches the name you used to register—otherwise we won’t know who you are…)
  9. When everyone has shown their visualizations, we’ll distribute the URL that people can use to vote (yes, you can vote for yourself…)
  10. Hang around for the next presentation, and we’ll present the winners at the end.
  11. Have fun!

Where is the Rattling and Rumbling?

I was flying out of Seattle on the way to southern California this morning, and when I looked out the window, we were rapidly approaching Mount St. Helens, which is quite beautiful and shocking. I remember reading about it as a child and am still in awe of the volcanic power of the earth. And that got me thinking–there are a lot of people who live fairly close to Mount St. Helens…and even closer to its dormant brethren, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier.

While those are humbling, I was a bit more enlightened/intrigued by the power of meteors when Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) spoke about them in his keynote at the Tableau Conference in Seattle last week (ah, Seattle again…). A decently sized meteor could cause a tsunami that more or less wipes out the west coast of the US. (Thanks to the NOAA for reminding me who’s the boss–check out the data at

So! I thought that some earthquake and volcano data would be perfect for the Tampa Tableau User Group’s online viz contest, which officially starts with this post and concludes with our meeting at Kforce next Tuesday, 9/23. We highly encourage you to download the data from Github at and then to combine it with other freely available data sources (like World Bank or US AID data…hint, hint…) and, when you have finished, publish it to Tableau Public. Mention me on Twitter @ashleyswain with the hashtag #TampaBayTUG by noon on 9/23.

Oh, and sign-up for the in-person Tampa Bay Tableau User Group!

We’ll have judging online, via WebEx, so everyone can join. And we’ll provide updates regularly!


Two Jedis + Starbucks Tweets + cookies + 45 minutes = a winning viz!

I had the great fortune to be in Seattle yesterday for the Seattle Tableau User Group. A few user groups have been organizing viz contests lately, and Jen Vaughn (@butterflystory) and I teamed up for this one, which I have reformatted slightly for the blog.

The premise was that we would have 45 minutes to create a story (in Tableau) from the data set, which was provided at the beginning of the event, and then we would present it to the audience. The data set was a week’s worth of tweets about Starbucks’ biggest hit, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (which actually doesn’t have any pumpkin in it). The story is, Starbucks has an online promo for its most loyal fans and started a Twitter account, @TheRealPSL, that apparently gets around 3,000 mentions a day. (Having tweeted about coffee perhaps more than once, I’m not in a position to judge.)

Jen and I started with a map, even though only about half of the 14K tweets had geolocators, and then we studied some other attributes in the data, like the number of followers of the users, their genders, and their retweets. You can filter the other visualizations from the map. Other than #PSL, there were very few other hashtags used in Europe or even in Hawaii, but the tweeters from Africa (who appear mostly to be male) have some clever ones. And Americans create #entire #conversations with #hashtags–they are to #millennials what #skateboards and #skinnyjeans are to #hipsters, and there actually is little meaning that one can derive from them, in this case–while this promotion probably did drive the attachment rate for the more mundane but no less delicious goods, it would be hard to analyze sentiment (which by default is good, in this case, or else people wouldn’t join the promotion) or attachment from this data set.

We did some analysis over time, too. We chose to show the trend by hour of day, which we have adjusted to be in PDT. (Twitter defaults to GMT.) It’s fairly easy to use a parameter and the DATEADD function to enable your users to adjust for their timezone, but all that does is change the numbers along the axis–the pattern of usage remains the same. And not surprisingly, most of the tweets were in the morning, no matter where the tweeters were.

If we were to spend more time on this, we would have related activity to proximity to store or marketing campaign. We did get store data (thanks, Chris Toomey!), but we ran out of time.

I’ll be donating my prize to US Hunger–check it out at Oh, and the Tampa Tableau User Group is sponsoring an online viz contest that starts on September 15. The Chicago TUG has just started their–tweet @KKMolugu to find out more.