Posts Tagged ‘ Business ’

Know your data 18: your location is our product

February 2, 2016
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In the last post in the Know Your Data series, I discussed how Uber can use its vast database of your personal trips against your personal interests. (This does not preclude the possibility that they use the data for your benefit.) It turns out that something more ominous is at foot… a number of news outlets have just published investigative reports about a company known as Vigilant Solutions (EFF, The…

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The failure to replicate scientific findings

January 19, 2016
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Andrew Gelman and I have published a piece in Slate, discussing the failure to replicate scientific findings, using the recent example of the so-called power pose. The idea of the "power pose" is that people develop psychological and hormonal changes by making this "power pose" before walking into business meetings, whereupon these changes make them more powerful. As you often read here and at Gelman's blog, the fact that someone…

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Treating absolute and relative data simultaneously

January 11, 2016
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Treating absolute and relative data simultaneously

A friend asked me to comment on the following chart: Specifically, he points out the challenge of trying to convey both absolute and relative metrics for a given data series. This chart presents projections of growth in the U.S. mobile...

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Know your data 17: when other people can track your Uber location

January 8, 2016
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The news is out that Uber got fined by the New York Attorney General's office for data breaches and privacy concerns. The headline writer for ZDNet nailed this one: "Uber fined peanuts in God View surveillance" (link). And the sub-lead has the kicker: "For a company with a valuation of over $50 billion, a $20,000 fine over user data protection is laughable." This settlement tells us one of the following…

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It’s difficult for journalists to get statistics right: the real estate edition

December 16, 2015
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A friend pointed me to a good article on the buoyant real-estate market in Boston (link). The journalist tells us the median home sale price in Suffolk County has gone up 31 percent in the five years since the 2010 crash. The article makes some excellent points. When it comes to talking about median house prices, it fails basic statistics. Here is a quote (maybe a misquote) from Barry Bluestone,…

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Finding meaning in Big Blue California

December 11, 2015
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Finding meaning in Big Blue California

Via Twitter, Pat complained that this Bloomberg graphic is confusing: The accompanying article is here. The gist of the report is that electric cars are much more popular on the West coast because the fuel efficiency of such cars goes...

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Enhanced tables, and supercharged spreadsheets with in-cell tech

December 4, 2015
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Enhanced tables, and supercharged spreadsheets with in-cell tech

Old-timer Chris P. sent me to this Bloomberg article about Vanguard ETFs and low-cost funds (link). The article itself is interesting, and I will discuss it on the sister blog some time in the future. Chris is impressed with this...

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What you learned and not learned about machine learning

December 2, 2015
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What you learned and not learned about machine learning

My friend Liliane pointed me to this HBR article about "machine learning." (link) As a basic introduction, the article is pretty good. Here are 3 things you learned and 2 things you didn't learn from this article. 3 Things You Learned Machine learning is not the same as learning as you know it. At the end of step 5 ("Iterate"), the author proudly states "It has learned." But what does…

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The proliferation of useless data

November 29, 2015
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One of the secrets of great data analysis is thoughtful data collection. Great data collection is necessary but not sufficient for great data analysis. I recently had the unfortunate need to select a new doctor. Every time I had to do this, it has been an exercise in frustration and desperation. And after wasting hours and hours perusing the "data" on doctors, inevitably I give up and just throw a…

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Statbusters: please back up an extreme claim with numbers

November 23, 2015
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In this week's Statbusters, my column with Andrew Gelman in the Daily Beast, we take note of Slate's recent rant about "wasteful" anti-smoking advertising, and demonstrate how to think about cost-benefit analysis. The key point is: if you are going to make an extreme claim, you better have some numbers to back it up. These numbers can be approximate, and based on (potentially dubious) Googled data. Not every analysis needs…

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