How I used social media to jump start my journey in learning data visualization engineering
TLDR: This is a post reflecting on how I started learning web-based data visualization. Read this if you’re interested in getting started with learning how to build web-based visualizations or want to read ideas on how to use social media when learning anything to manage your information consumption.
When starting out with any new field, I try to absorb as much information about the field as possible. This helps me understand the fundamentals as well as where the field currently is. Using social media is a great way to tailor my information diet to just what I need. While social media can be a huge time sink, its customization capabilities make it an incredible tool for learning when used deliberately.
- Twitter: I use twitter to follow people and organizations. The great thing about twitter is that I can tailor it to fit my information consumption needs (currently, that is anything and everything web dev and data viz). You can also create lists to further help your organize your twitter feed. Here are two of my lists: Code and Data Viz. Check them out for ideas of who to follow or simply follow the lists so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel 🙂
- Youtube: Similar to Twitter, I create playlists of Ted or tech talks that I find interesting. Then I can play these whenever I have a free 30 minutes to spare or when I need to break from coding. Aside: I also use playlists to organize workouts so I have them ready to go. It really helps balance the explore/exploit ratio in my web surfing.
- Medium: Towards Data Science, freeCodeCamp, Hacker Noon, and Code Like a Girl are all great publications that provide great articles and coder communities.
- Quora: I tend to use Quora for bigger picture questions: like what is the state of data visualization or data science or how to prepare for interviews. I don’t tend to use it for technical questions but it’s a great way to learn about the experiences of others.
- reddit: I am not an avid redditer but I do occasionally drop in on the following subreddits: Data is Beautiful and ReactJS.
- Facebook: Two active pages I follow is RBloggers and Rstudio. I have tried following JS and other web dev pages but I think these communities are more active on twitter than Facebook.
- Pinterest: I have had a Pinterest account for a long time and have the expected fashion, baking, and crafts boards. But recently, I have also started using it for data visualization inspiration as well. Nadieh Bremer is my favorite Pinterest profile to follow for data visualization as well.
- Github: Many authors in Medium articles or blogs will often link to code in their github profiles. In addition to individual profiles, I have found it extremely helpful to also read code repositories for open-source projects to learn new styles, patterns, and techniques.
- StackOverflow: This is a given. But I will include it for completeness. Most likely, the first time you run into a technical question and type it into google, you will have seen this site.
- Email Lists and Blogs: There are so many individual blogs and email lists that have amazing content. Currently, two that I like are Swizec Teller’s blog (for front-end) or Val Head’s weekly animation newsletter.
I hope this gives you ideas on ways to tailor your information diet for your learning needs. Let me know in the comments below if there are other ways you use social media to learn or other data visualization social media resources I am missing!