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Scripting Your World (with Ruby et al)

by willow on February 12, 2011

in Events

Mason will lead a class on Ruby for our Hacking for Good series (and for general knowledge). Come join us this Wednesday, 2/16, at 6p!

Mason sez:

Wednesday’s meetup will be 1/3 discussion, 1/3 environment setup, 1/3 hacking on data sources. Specifically, I’d like to start with a group discussion on viewing the world as one giant system of systems (of systems of systems…), of inputs and outputs; and learning the steps involved in turning data into useful information. I’m expecting the discussion will be short, lasting no more than 30-40 minutes. It’s mostly mindprep.

Next, we’ll spend time getting machines up to speed. Those who attended Zeke’s talk should hopefully have everything they need. Newcomers, however, will need some help.

Lastly, we’ll spend some time in irb exploring some Ruby fundamentals, and quickly get into learning some specific constructs which are useful for mashing up data into something sensible – things like pivoting on a common attribute, grouping by some criteria, etc. I’ll be proving some scaffolding to help make the visualization prettier.

If we’re feeling especially ambitious (though I suspect by here we’ll run out of time), we can cruise through something like http://www.data.gov/ and actually yank down some datasets we think might be interesting.

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If people are receptive, the second meetup will focus on consuming web APIs, and possibly building page scrapers (for harvesting information that isn’t available via a published API).

We’ll also touch on the subject of storage. Where do we keep all of this data once we have it?

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If people are receptive, the third meetup will focus on visualizing data through things like maps and graphs. Hopefully by this time Zeke’s Rails discussions will have people up to speed with some of the more web-oriented technologies and languages – HTML, JavaScript, etc. We’ll be using JavaScript libraries to present our data in a browser, driving it with either Sinatra or Rails. The beauty of this is it also touches on the process of publishing an API for others to consume.

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