Posts Tagged ‘ data ’

Making sense of the most detailed map of gay marriages

September 23, 2016
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Making sense of the most detailed map of gay marriages

Last week, my Columbia students discussed this nice article in the New York Times called "The Most Detailed Map of Gay Marriages in America". (link) The center of the article is this map: I asked the students to identify the problem that this dataviz is supposed to address. Someone responded that it tells us where gay married couples are found geographically. I asked her what is the answer to the…

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Spreadsheet Errors

September 9, 2016
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Spreadsheet Errors

Five years ago I wrote a post titled, "Beware of Econometricians Bearing Spreadsheets". The take-away message from that post was simple: there's considerable, well-documented, evidence that spreadsheets are very, very, dangerous when it comes to s...

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Know your data 20: trust and distrust in our surveillance society

September 5, 2016
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A very important article from the Times starts with the following sentence: Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. In the U.S., there is a disconnect between a populace whose distrust of government is at an all-time high and the…

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Thank you Buzzfeed for noticing us humans

August 31, 2016
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My friend John R. sent me this excellent Buzzfeed feature on music playlists. Here are some choice quotes to whet your appetite: In 2014, when Tim Cook explained Apple’s stunning $3 billion purchase of Beats by repeatedly invoking its “very rare and hard to find” team of music experts, he was talking about these guys. And their efforts since, which have pointed toward curated playlists (specifically, an industrial-scale trove of…

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Statistical thinking on my subway commute

August 16, 2016
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So I recently moved and needed to find the optimal subway ride up to Columbia. I have been go back and forth between my two choices to collect some data to help make up my mind. Both routes require two train exchanges but only the first leg differs. In other words: Route 1 : A -> B -> C Route 2 : X -> B -> C Here, the "nodes"…

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Know your data 19: don’t tell me you are 2 blocks away when you are 20 blocks away

August 11, 2016
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Well, it didn't take long but private investigators have found the next big thing: Big Data. Bloomberg reported on a company called IDI, who sells our data to private investigators. (link) Unfortunately, this article is short on details and long on sensationalized catchphrases ("Every move you make. Every click you take...") The CEO of IDI boasted that "We have data on that 21-year-old who’s living at home with mom and…

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Apple Watch users overwhelmingly satisfied, says a survey of satisfied users

July 27, 2016
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Apple Watch users overwhelmingly satisfied, says a survey of satisfied users

As word of plummeting sales of Apple Watch spread around last week, an entrepreneur went on Medium to sing a different tune: his survey apparently uncovered a "paradox" - Apple Watch users are "overwhelmingly satisfied, yet not recommending" the product. The "overwhelming" bit comes from this chart: This data portray a hugely successful product in which almost nobody expressed any negative feelings. This next chart is even more impressive. Apparently,…

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What happened when I was forced to wait 30 minutes for the subway

July 18, 2016
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What happened when I was forced to wait 30 minutes for the subway: pondering how easy it is for data analysts to get fooled by bad data

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Ethical dilemmas in data science and analytics

July 5, 2016
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Ethical dilemmas in data science and analytics

About half a year ago, when my article on ethics in data science appeared on Harvard Business Review, the second half of the piece was dropped. In the omitted section, I had designed a poll inviting readers to opine on several ethical dilemmas facing real-world data analysts. In April, Manoj Chari read my HBR article and kindly invited me to speak on the subject at the INFORMS Analytics Conference, and…

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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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