Worlds become data

INF312 is an upper-level undergraduate course at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.



To a certain extent we are wasting our time. We have a perfect model of the world–it is the world! But it is too complicated. Because of this we must simplify the world in order for it to become data. In this course we explore how we do this, and the implications.



Thank you to the following people for generously providing comments, references, suggestions, and thoughts that directly contributed to this outline: Monica Alexander and Uzair Mirza.


Almost all content will closely follow Telling Stories with Data.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3


Week 4

‘On writing’ and ‘Static communication’.

Week 5

‘Interactive communication’.

Week 6

‘Gathering data’.

Week 7

‘Gathering data II’.

Week 8

‘Hunting data’.

Week 9

‘Hunting data II’.

Week 10

‘Cleaning data’.

Week 11

‘Store, retrieve, disseminate and protect’ and ‘share, but not too much’.

Week 12

‘Whoops, I forgot EDA’.



Item Weight (%) Due date
Quiz 20 Weekly before the lecture
Tutorial 20 Weekly the day before the tutorial
Paper 1 25 End of Week 3
Paper 2 25 End of Week 6
Paper 3 25 End of Week 8
Paper 4 25 End of Week 10
Final Paper (initial submission) 1 Middle of Week 12
Final Paper (peer review) 4 End of Week 12
Final Paper 25 Two weeks after that

You must submit Paper 1. And you must submit the Final Paper.

‘End of’ means Sunday 11:59pm.

Beyond that, you have scope to pick an assessment schedule that works for you. We will take your best 3 of the 11 tutorials, or your best 8 of 11 quizzes for that 20 per cent—whichever results in a better grade for you (i.e. you can choose to do either quizzes or tutorials). And we will take your two best papers from Papers 1-4 for that 50 per cent (25 per cent for each). The remainder is made up of 1 per cent for submitting a draft of the Final Paper, 4 per cent for peer reviewing other people’s drafts of the Final Paper, and 25 per cent for the Final Paper.

Additional details:



Paper #1

Paper #2

Paper #3

Paper #4

Final Paper