Archive for July, 2009

How to create a form for people to add information to your spreadsheet

July 30, 2009

Rather than asking people to edit a whole spreadsheet, you can make it easier by creating a form for them to add particular information by answering questions.

To do this, open your spreadsheet in Google Docs and click on Form > Create a form.

A new window will appear containing a form that you can edit, with some information automatically added.

If you roll over any of the questions you will see buttons for you to edit, duplicate or delete it. You can also edit the form title and description and there are various extra options across the top. (more…)


Allowing others to edit your spreadsheet – and tracking what happens

July 30, 2009

Following on from the previous post on creating and publishing a spreadsheet online, here’s how you allow others to add to that, and how you track what happens:

To allow others to edit your spreadsheet, open it and click on Share (in the top right area) then click See who has access…

A new window will open – towards the bottom of that it will say ‘Sign-in is required to view this item’ which means users need a Google account to see it. Click ‘Change‘ next to that.
3 options will pop up: (more…)

Creating and publishing a spreadsheet online

July 30, 2009

For some investigations it will be useful to create a public spreadsheet of information. There are 3 main reasons why:

  • It’s a better way of displaying data than using a sentence of text
  • It means people can easily see where the gaps are – and fill them in
  • It also allows people to do interesting things with the data, like visualise it, or mix it up (‘mashup’) with information from elsewhere, e.g. maps

One of the most popular tools for creating public spreadsheets of data is Google Spreadsheets, part of Google Docs. (more…)

What to do if you have documents you want to upload

July 30, 2009

If you have a document relating to your investigation that is not already online – for instance a PDF, a Word document, a scanned document, or a letter, here is some advice on how to get it into the investigation:

1. Get it onto your computer if it isn’t already

If your evidence is physical – e.g. a printout – then use a scanner to get it onto your computer. Many company photocopiers now offer this facility as well.

2. Upload it to a document-sharing website

There are a number of these. Scribd is a very useful place to store PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. You will need to create a (free) account first. Once you do, just follow the instructions given here. You can also use the service to create backup copies of documents that are already online. (more…)

Advice on investigative journalism (video)

July 30, 2009

Very simple and helpful video from Bob Woodward on the 3 ingredients of good investigative journalism:

  • Talking to people
  • Documents
  • Visiting the scene

How to investigate

July 30, 2009

Think something is unjust or unfair – or just curious to know why something happened or how something works? Are you saying “Someone ought to do something”? That someone is you.

Society is only as good as those individuals willing to stand up and ask questions of the people in charge. I’m guessing you’re one of those individuals.

As a seasoned battler with bureaucracy here are my top tips about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to finding things out. (more…)