The Gamma
Democratizing data science

The rise of Big Data and Open Government Data initiatives means that there is an increasing amount of raw data available. At the same time, "post-truth" has been chosen as the word of 2016 and the public increasingly distrusts statistics. In other words, data science has more capabilities to help us understand the world than ever before, yet it is becoming less relevant in public discussion.

This should perhaps not be a surprise as data science is often opaque, non-experts find results difficult to interpret and verify, and creating data-driven reports is limited to a small number of specialists. The goal of The Gamma project is to democratize data science. Our tools encourage everyone — including journalists and interested citizens — to understand how presented claims are justified, explore data on their own and make their own transparent factual claims. If the society is to benefit from the possibilities available through data science, it is essential to make data-driven storytelling widely accessible, open and engaging.

Open data visualizations

As part of the work on The Gamma at the Alan Turing Institute, we created a number of visualizations that explore and actively engage with interesting data sets ranging from facts about the to UK government spending.

  • Accounting for democracy. This project explores the UK Government expenditure obtained from the Public Expenditre Statistical Analyses 2016 report. You can explore different aspects of government spending and also make your own guess about a number of topics in a series of interactive visualizations.
  • Expected and unexpected. This project looks at trends in financial markets and how are they be affected by events such as Brexit or the Lehman Brothers collapse. Each visualization is fully transparent, so you can see where we get the data from and how. They also encourage you to think critically about the problem. Can you guess when the price starts going up?
  • Turing 2016/2017 in numbers. We look at information about the Alan Turing Institute in a fun interactive and transparent way. Behind every chart on this page, there is source code that links the chart to the primary data source and lets you explore the data further. The visualizations are inspired by the You Draw It series by New York Times and let you make your own guess about the data before showing the actual numbers. How many of the facts about the Alan Turing Institute can you guess correctly?
  • Our world in data: Carbon emissions. We use The World Bank data as our data source to learn about carbon emissions in the world. All of the visualizations are open and transparent and you can click on the "open source button" to explore and modify the code behind each visualizations. To encourage broader engagement, the important aspects of the visualization can also be changed through a user interface. As an example, try changing the comparison of US and China carbon emissions from total CO2 emissions in kilotons to relative CO2 emissions per capit!
  • Interactive playground. This is a minimal page where you can explore any of the datasets available in The Gamma or uploaded to The Gamma gallery. For example, start by typing olympics to explore Olympic medal winners or worldbank to explore World Bank statistics. Data from the two other projects are available here too!

Learn more

For more information about the project, see The Gamma homepage. If you are a developer, you will also find out how to use The Gamma JavaScript package in your own projects and how to provide your own data sources. You can find more information about some of the aspects in our ECOOP paper Data exploration through dot-driven development and in our European Data Journalism Conference abstract The Gamma: Programming tools for open data-driven storytelling. We also have a project page at the Alan Turing Institute.