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Honors 214: Interrogating Inequality: Social Explorer

Step 1: Getting Started with Social Explorer

1.  Navigate to Social Explorer and sign up for a personal account.  Doing so will allow you to save, export and share the maps that you create.

2. Create a new project and select maps.

3. Using data from the 2000 census, create a map that shows population densities for African Americans. 

4.  Examine all three visualization types:  shaded areas, bubbles, dot density.  When and how might you use each type of visualization?

5.  Now alter the levels of geographic granularity.  Look at Washington State (county level) and then at Tacoma (census tract level).  Try searching by the University of Puget Sound zip code 98416.  Why won't the map show more granularity?


Step 2: Intermediate Social Explorer

1. Swipe Comparisons (same variable, different years)

Goal:  Create a swipe comparison by showing population densities of African Americans in Tacoma (census tract level) for 1970 and 2000. Save your map.  What questions does your map raise?

2.  Side-by-Side Comparisons (different variables, same year)

Goal:  Create a side-by-side comparison of the African American population in Tacoma (census tract level) for 1970 and average family income in Tacoma (census tract level), also for 1970. Save your map.  What questions does your map raise?

3.  Map Annotation

Social Explorer offers several different kinds of annotations to enhance your map. These include place markers, hotspots and a variety of drawing tools. To access the annotations menu, click on the bars to the right of the map title, and then select "Annotate Map." Try adding at least two types of annotations to your map. Save your map.  How does annotation help you create an argument?

Step 3: Advanced Social Explorer

1.  Mapping Multiple Variables

Social Explorer allows you to map multiple variables on a single map.  This opens up new opportunities to compare different groups directly and visually.

First, select one variable to get started. After the first map is created, go back to the "Change Data" button to select the other variable or variables you wish to add. Click the box or boxes for the variable/s you want. You will see check boxes next to the eligible variables--Social Explorer prevents you from comparing unrelated variables, such as variables from different years on the same map, or combining a race and a gender variable on the same map. (You'd need to do a swipe or side-by-side map to do that.)

2.  Experiment!

Social Explorer works best when you use it both to answer questions you already may have AND to discover questions that you didn't know needed to be asked.

Fully explore all of the datasets currently available in Social Explorer.  Try different variables.