Open Data Manchester’s Pick N Mix programme is a series of free, weekly online workshops run by the ODM community.
When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, like many other organisations, we were forced to cancel our regular monthly meetups.
Rather than simply take our talks online, we took the opportunity to test out a new programme, introducing new and old friends to some of the latest data tools, resources and skills in a fun and informative way.
Due to popular demand, what started as a series of eight workshops quickly expanded.
Each Pick N Mix session is run by someone from the Open Data Manchester community, and they have all been recorded and the resources made available for anyone to stream or download, so you can have a go in your own time.
Most take the format of a presentation with follow-along exercises, with a Q&A afterwards and a bit of Zoom networking.
Why not try:
An introduction to OpenStreetMap – the free, editable map of the world, created and maintained by a huge international community.
Mapping with QGIS – using this open-source GIS application, Dr Sam Langton from Manchester Metropolitan University, explored the fundamentals, including how to perform some preliminary visual explorations.
An Introduction to the UK Data Service – the UK Data Service holds the UK’s largest collection of research data, and Dr Julia Kasmire showed the different types of data the service holds and how to get access to datasets in various formats.
An Introduction to Web-Scraping – Dr Diarmuid McDonnal from the UK Data Service demonstrates step-by-step processes for capturing text-based data from websites.
An Introduction to Data Analysis using Python – Dr John Carney, from PyDataMCR and PDFTA, talked us through how to load CSV data into an interactive Python environment, showed some basic operations and explored visualisations.
An Introduction to SQL and Databases – Peter Smyth, from the Cathie Marsh Institute, covered a simple description of database systems and an introduction to SQL, which allows for the efficient extraction of data from a database.
Key Issues in Re-Using Data – Patty Doran, from the UK Data Service, covered the pros and cons of reusing data and the importance of learning about the origins of your data, including examples and issues of context, sampling and ethics.
Creating Lava Lamp Plots Using R – Jamie Whyte, from Open Data Manchester, showed us how to create the ‘Indices of Deprivation vs Political Control’ violin plots using programming language R.
An Introduction to Github – Dr Rachael Ainsworth, from Her+Data MCR and the University of Manchester, guided us through the basics of Github, including a tutorial on setting up a repository, plus version control, best practice and jargon busting.
Accessing Open Data Through APIs – Dr Reka Solymosi, from the University of Manchester, explored what an API is and how to make API calls to access open data.
We developed a group of ‘regulars’, but we also reached new people too, not just from Greater Manchester, but across the UK and internationally, including Singapore and Canada. One person told us “I am in love with these!”, high praise indeed.
Some people were from local authorities and the charity sector, some were there to learn a specific skill, some were data enthusiasts brushing up on their skills or wanting to learn something new during lockdown.
Pick N Mix will finish its current run on 14 July, but we plan to make this a regular feature of the Open Data Manchester programme, running a couple of ‘seasons’ a year.
We’d love to hear what sessions you’d like to see, or, if you’d like to run one yourself. If you have a particular skill or project that you’d like to show off, do get in touch.
If you missed any Pick N Mix sessions, catch up now on Vimeo.