Blog Archives

Revisiting the home run data

July 21, 2014
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Revisiting the home run data

Note to New York metro readers: I'm an invited speaker at NYU's "Art and Science of Brand Storytelling" summer course which starts tomorrow. I will be speaking on Thursday, 12-1 pm. You can still register here. *** The home run...

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Digital journalism has an archiving challenge

July 18, 2014
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While making slides for a presentation, I wanted to scan a chart from the paper copy of the Wall Street Journal. This was a chart from several years ago, and I can't find it online. I went to the NYU Library, expecting this to be an easy task. Find the bound copies of the paper, or the microfiche, right? Nope. Apparently, we are in the digital age now. This means…

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Interactivity as overhead

July 17, 2014
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Interactivity as overhead

Making data graphics interactive should improve the user experience. In practice, interactivity too often becomes overhead, making it harder for users to understand the data on the graph. Reader Joe D. (via Twitter) admires the statistical sophistication behind this graphic...

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Around the blogosphere

July 10, 2014
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A number of folks have reacted to various blogs and talks I have recently given. I'm glad that my writing has inspired others, and I recommend reading these wonderful responses. *** Diane Ravitch, the eminent scholar of New York education and author of several great books, found my 2011 post about Bill Gates's view of education. Here is her reaction: How refreshing to know that statisticians like Kaiser Fung are…

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Return of the barrel

July 10, 2014
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Return of the barrel

Back in 2008, I wrote about this unfortunate chart by the Guardian (link): The barrel imagery interferes with communicating the data. The green portion looks about the same size as the red portion when the number is four times smaller....

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Two unsolved problems of Big Data studies: confirmation and controls

July 9, 2014
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Two unsolved problems of Big Data studies: confirmation and controls

A postscript on the post about ProPublica's display of ambulance spending data on Junk Charts. This chart (of which I excerpted the top) is used in support of an article exposing potential fraud by ambulance operators in New Jersey. But the chart by itself is not convincing evidence of fraud. It presents a symptom, and that's really all exploratory analysis of observational data can realistically achieve. The ProPublica investigation is…

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A small step for interactivity

July 9, 2014
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A small step for interactivity

Alberto links to a nice Propublica chart on average annual spend per dialysis patient on ambulances by state. (link to chart and article) It's a nice small-multiples setup with two tabs, one showing the states in order of descending spend...

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The Facebook experiment controversy

July 1, 2014
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Facebook data scientists are being blasted for a social psychology experiment they ran in 2012 in which they varied the amount of positive/negative content exposed to users in newsfeeds and measured whether this affected the positive/negative content posted by those users. (link to WSJ report; link to paper) I'm perplexed by the reaction. Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow calls it "likely illegal", who links to James Grimmelmann, a law professor. Slate…

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The missing Brazil effect, and BYOC charts

July 1, 2014
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The missing Brazil effect, and BYOC charts

Announcement: I'm giving a free public lecture on telling and finding stories via data visualization at NYU on 7/15/2014. More information and registration here. *** The Economist states the obvious, that the current World Cup is atypically high-scoring (or poorly...

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Light entertainment: famous people, sleep, publication bias

June 26, 2014
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Light entertainment: famous people, sleep, publication bias

Bernard L. tipped us about this "infographic": The chart is missing a title. The arcs present "sleep schedules" for the named people. The "data" comes from a book. I wonder about the accuracy of such data. Also note the inherent...

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