Blog Archives

A Tufte fix for austerity

June 29, 2016
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A Tufte fix for austerity

Trish, who attended one of my recent data visualization workshops, submitted a link to the Illinois Atlas of Austerity. Shown on the right is one of the charts included in the presentation. This is an example of a chart that...

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Raining, data art, if it ain’t broke

June 22, 2016
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Raining, data art, if it ain’t broke

Via Twitter, reader Joe D. asked a few of us to comment on the SparkRadar graphic by WeatherSpark. At the time of writing, the picture for Baltimore is very pretty: The picture for New York is not as pretty but...

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Your emails are being read (though I also think this is a hoax)

June 20, 2016
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CNBC reports that Goldman Sachs flags employee emails based on a long list of "offending" phrases. If an employee types a profanity, apparently a window pops up to confirm that the person really truly wants to say that word. The other objective given is to detect fraudulent behavior. The list they published apparently came from 2008, so very aged, but I think it is a hoax. Many of the terms…

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What doesn’t help readers (on the chart) and what does help (off the chart)

June 16, 2016
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What doesn’t help readers (on the chart) and what does help (off the chart)

Via Twitter, Bart S (@BartSchuijt) sent me to this TechCrunch article, which contains several uninspiring charts. The most disturbing one is this: There is a classic Tufte class here: only five numbers and yet the chart is so confusing. And...

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Why is this chart so damn hard to read?

June 8, 2016
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Why is this chart so damn hard to read?

My summer course on analytical methods is already at the midway point. I was doing some research on recommendation systems the other day, and came across the following chart: Ouch. This is from the Park, et. al. (2012) survey of...

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An example of terrible analytics report design

June 1, 2016
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In the business analytics universe, the discipline of "business intelligence" is often frowned upon. Business intelligence is primarily generating reports on business metrics, tracking them over time, and producing ad-hoc analyses explaining these trends. People often complain that such work is not challenging and not sexy. There is a stigma that BI work is data dumping. In reality, good BI work is rare and extremely valuable. Horrible BI work is…

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Where is NYT’s data science team when you need them?

May 29, 2016
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Where is NYT’s data science team when you need them?

The management at New York Times was smart enough to create a data science team but apparently the newsroom has not yet been exposed to STAT 101. Today, NYT printed this headline: "Top C.E.O. Pay Fell -- Yes, Fell -- in 2015" (link to article). I immediately thought, not so fast, are they talking about average pay or median pay. Anyone who has taken STAT 101 knows that when analyzing…

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A multidimensional graphic that holds a number of surprises, via NYT

May 24, 2016
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A multidimensional graphic that holds a number of surprises, via NYT

The New York Times has an eye-catching graphic illustrating the Amtrak crash last year near Philadelphia. The article is here. The various images associated with this article vary in the amount of contextual details offered to readers. This graphic provides...

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Tip of the day: don’t be Theranosed

May 23, 2016
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Theranos (v): to spin stories that appeal to data while not presenting any data To be Theranosed is to fall for scammers who tell stories appealing to data but do not present any actual data. This is worse than story time, in which the storyteller starts out with real data but veers off mid-stream into unsubstantiated froth, hoping you and I got carried away by the narrative flow. Theranos (n):…

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Law versus ethics: how the new overtime pay rule will play out

May 18, 2016
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In any discussion of ethics , someone is bound to bring up the law: it is okay to do something if something is not against the law. The logical conclusion of this belief is that ethics is irrelevant in the presence of the law. The recent stories relating to minimum wage and the overtime pay rule changes (for example, link) argue strongly against such a point of view. The law…

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