(Google) Fusion cuisine

If you’re coming to today’s Tech Camp — and you should — here are few links that we’ll reference during our second Google Fusion workshop:

1.) A list of U.S. state foods from Wikipedia. (I’ll show you how to import this into Fusion during the workshop.)

2.) A file containing information on the boundaries of the U.S. states. (I found this through Google’s Tabels search interface, which you can see here.)

3.) Obesity rates by state.

4.) A list of state capitals.

Our goal will be to create the following: A map that uses different shades of a color to show obesity rates and illustrates official state foods; a timeline that shows when each official food was adopted; a chart or other type of visualization that tells us something else about this information.

If you missed last week’s overview of Fusion, here’s everything you need to know.

Fun with Google Fusion

Yesterday’s technical issues have been resolved,* so here, as promised, is a guide to using Google Fusion Tables.

Once you learn the basics of Fusion, it’s possible to build a fairly sophisticated map or chart in a matter of minutes — but those basics can be tricky to master. There are lots of steps and lots of places where things can get wonky so, before we get started, remember:

Photo credit: Jim Linwood/Flikr
Photo credit: Jim Linwood/Flickr

Click here to download my instructions for using Google Fusion. And here are some examples of how news organizations are using Fusion to tell stories of all kinds.

We’ll delve deeper into Fusion at next Tuesday’s Summer Tech Camp, so plan to bring your data and your questions.

* The solution involved two trips to Best Buy and a new wireless router.

Garbage in, garbage out

This week’s Summer Tech Camp session was focused on Google Fusion Tables, and I had planned to post detailed instructions and other information today. Those plans are on hold for the moment, though, because I’ve been mysteriously locked out of Fusion.

Oh, technology.

In the meantime, here’s a story from Poynter.org that explores some of the challenges of finding solid electronic information. Just like in any other kind of journalism, your final Fusion project will only be as good as its data. No amount of fancy styling can make up for inaccuracies.

Careful journalists, however, can find a wealth of useful data though this Google interface.