Little Columns

Making data easier for everyone (but mostly just journalists)

Let's solve some problems

You need solutions that work for journalists, not rocket data scientists1

Mapping and Geographic Analysis

Maps cover a lot of ground — everything from annotated reference maps like the Washington Post's coverage of Parkland to complex data-driven pieces like this NYT electoral map.

Web applications

Build browseable databases like the Texas Tribune's Government Salaries Explorer or ProPublica's Dollars for Docs. Amazing data collections not included

Charts and Graphs

Sometimes people overlook simple charts2 and graphics like those from FiveThirtyEight and the Upshot in favor of interactives. Don't be a goofball.

Data Cleaning and Analysis

Installing Python is the worst part of learning Python, I promise. And I'm not teaching you R, because, well, I don't know it. This piece from BuzzFeed was done using Python.

D3-driven interactives (sigh)

Everyone wants to learn D3 and work for The Pudding, although I can only help with the first half. But only if you also listen to like twelve hours of me complaining about why interactivity is a curse.

More things!

You want buzzwords? Here we go: Scraping! Python! Jupyter Notebooks! Illustrator! Machine learning! QGIS! Flask! OpenRefine! LANDSAT! Most everything people mentioned at NICAR, probably.

1 Yes, you're right, it might be fun to do some regressions or text analysis or whatever using scikit-learn, but you get the idea. Us data journos have a much wider scope than the number crunchers of the world.

2 Is that pie chart making you lose your mind? If it isn't, let's go on a journey to find out why it's so painful.

Keep in the loop

We'll let you know when we have fun new releases. Courses, tools, showtunes, furniture, etc.

Tutorials and classes

Because knowledge doesn't grow on trees.

Python's Not (Just) For Unicorns

An interactive introduction to Python.

I don't like a single introductory online Python class. They're boring, they're useless, and they lack an ounce of soul. So I'm making one. It's boring and useless, sure, but it's mine.

Check out Python's Not (Just) For Unicorns


Point-and-click tools so you don't need to get your hands dirty with the command line.

Little Geocoder

Easily convert US street addresses to latitude/longitude.

Take advantage of the Census Bureau's bulk geocoding service with a simple app. Includes simple cleaning and data manipulation tools so you can spend less time in Excel and more time building your maps.

Check out Little Geocoder


Easily view and update your $PATH variable on OS X.

Organize your command line without opening ~/.bash_profile ever again! (or even knowing what that heck that means)

Check out Pathwinder

Python Wrangler

Installing Python can be a pain. Python Wrangler can help.

Discover and organize all of the Python versions installed on your system, and get tips on how to clean house and set everything up in a nice standard way.

Check out Python Wrangler

About Little Columns

Time to solve the deepest darkest mystery

Oh, hi. It's actually just me, Soma. My major qualifications are that I think programming is boring.

I also run the Lede Program at Columbia's Journalism School. We do data analysis, data viz, that kind of stuff, mostly over the course of 14 weeks in the summer. Learn more here.

But really, I'd like for more than just my students to have an easy time doing this stuff, so here we are.