DataBasic is a suite of easy-to-use web tools for beginners that introduce concepts of working with data.

These simple tools make it easy to work with data in fun ways, so you can learn how to find great stories to tell.

Why use DataBasic?

Making Data Fun

Spreadsheets and large Word documents can be boring and intimidating. We think working with data should be more fun! Take a look at our activity guides for hands-on approaches to analyzing your data using these tools. Activity guides combined with fun data sets like music lyrics can help you take a playful approach to finding stories in your data. Don't you want to know "what the fudge" is going on with your CSV file?


Doing One Thing Well

There are tons of tools for working with data; many so complex they are intimidating to even start with. We've built each DataBasic tool to focus on doing one thing well, so you know exactly what each can be used for. This lets us concentrate on making that one thing both simple and powerful.

Focused on Learning

Sometimes faster isn't better. If you really want to learn how to work with data to find stories to tell, you'll need to use tools that do more than just give you a chart as quickly as possible. That's why we've built DataBasic with learners in mind. Don't know what some technical word means? Hover over it to see a quick definition. Not sure how to use a tool? Try some of the fun sample data like music lyrics and UFO sightings we've included to get started.

Fitting in to Your Pipeline

Working with data online always involves using a mishmash of tools. We're not going to solve that problem anytime soon. So we've built DataBasic to take in a variety of types of data, and output results in the formats you're used to. Read some content from website and download CSV files of your results. These are just two of the ways we try to introduce you to the way most folks work data online.


Ensuring Your Privacy

With more and more data-centric tools moving online, sometimes it can be hard to tell where your data is going and what will happen with it after you upload it. We store information you upload for only the amount of time it takes us to analyze it, then we delete it. The aggregate results we show you - metadata - are kept for 60 days, and then we delete them. All communications are over https, so other folks can't eavesdrop on the data as you upload it.

By Educators, for Educators

Work with high-schoolers? Journalists? Community groups? Graduate students? Us too!!! That's why we designed and tested the DataBasic tools and activities in our classrooms and in workshops with those audiences. These tools were born out of frustration with things we were trying to use in our undergraduate classes, so we feel your pain.

Accessible to All

Digital technologies have empowered those with disabilities in a variety of ways, and new web standards have made it easier than ever to build new tools that are accessible to all. DataBasic implements those technologies to support screen readers so the visually impaired can start working with data in new and exciting ways.


Designed and Developed by

Principal Investigators:

Rahul Bhargava (MIT Center for Civic Media) & Catherine D'Ignazio (Engagement Lab)

Software development:

Spanish translation:

Portuguese translation:

Daniel Paz de Araújo with contributions from Emilie Reiser

Spanish data sourcing:

Portuguese data sourcing:

MIT logo
Engagement Lab logo

This free and open source project would not be possible without the generous support of:
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Emerson College Faculty Development Fund & The Shuttleworth Foundation