Posts Tagged ‘ Current Affairs ’

An overused chart, why it fails, and how to fix it

April 17, 2014
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An overused chart, why it fails, and how to fix it

Reader and tipster Chris P. found this "death spiral" chart dizzying (link). It's one of those charts that has conceptual appeal but does not do the data justice. As the name implies, the designer has a strong message, that the...

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Conventions, novelty and the double edge

April 15, 2014
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Conventions, novelty and the double edge

This chart from Reuters is making the rounds on Twitter today. Quickly, tell me whether the Gun Law in Florida did well or poorly. That of course is the entire purpose of the chart. *** If you are like me,...

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Talking shop about probability

April 11, 2014
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It strikes me that the media loves to talk about probability, a subject about which journalists are ill-trained to write. The latest example of this is Forbes' attempt to draw a lesson out of the Warren Buffett's gimmicky $1 billion NCAA pool. As we all learned, by the time the 25th match drew to a close, all 8.7 million entrants have gotten at least one winner wrong, thus there would…

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Law of small numbers, in action

April 10, 2014
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Law of small numbers, in action

Loyal reader John M. expressed dismay over Twitter about 538's excessive use of bubble charts. Here's the picture that pushed John over the edge: The associated article is here. The question on the table is motivated by the extraordinary performance...

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Round-up of coverage of the Big Miss of Big Data

April 9, 2014
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There is now some serious soul-searching in the mainstream media about their (previously) breath-taking coverage of the Big Data revolution. I am collecting some useful links here for those interested in learning more. Here's my Harvard Business Review article in which I discussed the Science paper disclosing that Google Flu Trends, that key exhibit of the Big Data lobby, has systematically over-estimated flu activity for 100 out of the last…

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Advocacy graphics

April 6, 2014
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Advocacy graphics

Note: If you are here to read about Google Flu Trends, please see this roundup of the coverage. My blog is organized into two sections: the section you are on is about data visualization; the other section concerns Big Data...

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Big delusion

April 4, 2014
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This article printed by VentureBeat is too much. The title claims "The Internet is killing off marketing surveys & it's for the best". This article is tagged as "Big Data". Big delusion is what it is. This is a great example of the kind of revisionist history that is practised in the name of Big Data. You'd also notice that there is no data or evidence presented to support any…

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HBR, Webinar, Nate Silver, Krugman, writing about data

March 25, 2014
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HBR, Webinar, Nate Silver, Krugman, writing about data

A revised version of my previous post is picked up by Harvard Business Review (link). This post introduces the OCCAM framework for Big Data that I have been speaking about at my book talks (upcoming events are listed on the right column of the blog). The OCCAM framework identifies five elements of today's data sets that present challenges compared to traditional data sets. These challenges are not new but they…

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Toward a more useful definition of Big Data

March 17, 2014
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Toward a more useful definition of Big Data

The article (link) in Science about the failure of Google Flu Trends is important for many reasons. One is the inexplicable silence in the Big Data community about this little big problem: it's not as if this is breaking news -- it was known as early as 2009 that Flu Trends completely missed the swine flu pandemic (link), underestimating it by 50%, and then in 2013, Nature reported that Flu…

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Reality check on the long tail

March 12, 2014
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Reality check on the long tail

Some time ago, there was a lot of hype about how new tech will demolish the superstar effect in entertainment sales because all the little titles in the long tail will be exposed to consumers. I recall Amazon being labeled the shiny example of a company that made profits off the long tail (as opposed to the boring top of the distribution). I still remember this graphic from Wired (link):…

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