• Flowchart: Should you vaccinate your child?

    Posted to Miscellaneous  |  Tags: ,

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Yes. A handy flowchart by Scott Bateman.

  • Chances that a drug treatment helps

    Posted to Infographics  |  Tags: , ,

    It's a common belief that if someone has a medical condition, a patient can take a treatment and the condition gets better or goes away. That is, improvement is directly related to intake. However, as it turns out, there's often a good chance the patient would have gotten better without the treatment. There's also a chance a treatment does nothing.

    Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll for the Upshot describe these chances through a metric called number needed to treat, or N.N.T. The simple animations throughout the article provide a great dose of perspective to the odds.

  • State Rorschach

    Posted to Data Underload  |  Tags:

    That's Mimal the elfin chef with a pan of fried chicken. He is named after the first letter of each state that he is composed of: Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It's an old gag but it still amuses me, and it always unburies the age-old question. Do the states make Mimal or does Mimal make the states? The question is so deep and profound that I don't dare try to answer it.

    Mimal came across my desk the other day, and as I stared longingly at his pan of fried chicken, I wondered:

    "Are there more Mimals among us? What other characters are hidden in our boundaries? And are these clues that I can pass on to Nicholas Cage to find the next national treasure, or does he already know about them? Am I just wasting my time?"

    I brushed off my insecurities and fear and began the journey. And began it did. Here's what I found.
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  • Questionable fumble statistics for Deflate-Gate

    Posted to Mistaken Data  |  Tags: , ,

    A data-centric look at New England Patriots fumble rates at home made the rounds this week. The most cited tidbit was that there is only a 1 in 16,233 chance that the Patriots achieved the lower rate via randomness. Therefore, the Patriots must have cheated. Gregory J. Matthews and Michael Lopez explain, finding by finding, why the results from Sharp Football Analysis are suspect.

    Even if you're not into football, read it for the statistics lesson.

    The Patriots are indeed nearly off the chart, but that is partially because the author uses the smallest y-axis possible to demonstrate the largest effect that he could. It's generally preferred to use a y-axis that begins at 0, as any other scale is misleading and, in all likelihood, sensationalistic. (There are a few exceptions to this, but rarely so straightforward as this.)

    To put it another way, imagine four men standing side-by-side, and three of them range from 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-4; the fourth is 6-foot-6. The tallest man is tall no matter how you frame the men, but if you turn all four into lines on a chart, and start the chart at the shortest man's eyebrows, it's going to paint a certain image of the actual difference in heights.

  • Mapping ice layers with radar data

    Posted to Mapping  |  Tags: , ,

    I don't know exactly how much data NASA has in the bank, but I think it's a lot. Explained in the video below, they estimated the age of ice layers in Greenland by flying a plane over the Greenland Ice Sheet and pulsing radar to gather information.
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  • A century of National Geographic maps

    Posted to Mapping  |  Tags: ,

    Celebrating the 100th year of the National Geographic cartographic department, they provide a truncated roundup of the thousands of maps they've made over the past century. I liked this tidbit about the Germany map above:

    Our maps haven't just chronicled history; they've made it. General Dwight D. Eisenhower carried our map of Germany during his 1945 offensive. When a B-17 carrying Admiral Chester Nimitz got lost in a rainstorm, the pilot landed safely using the Society's map of the Pacific war theater. The map, Nimitz later wrote Gilbert H. Grosvenor, "lent an unexpected but most welcome helping hand."

    It's true. Maps, even on paper, can be useful.

  • Feed Sponsor

    Beer, Pizza & Data Science

    Metis thumbnail

    Metis, known for their data science bootcamps in New York City, is holding a Data Science Open House on February 3. Enjoy pizza and drinks as data science instructors Irmak Sirer and Bo Peng, both of whom are data scientists at Datascope Analytics in Chicago, walk you through a sampling of what students learn throughout their 12 weeks of project-based data science work at Metis.

    The Metis Data Science Bootcamp is an immersive experience, designed by world-class industry practitioners. Students receive intensive, on-site instruction, access to an extensive network of speakers and mentors, and ongoing career coaching and job placement support.

    Get Skilled

    Learn Data Science in 12 weeks with 100% in-person instruction with experts from Datascope Analytics.

    Get Connected

    A busy speakers and events schedule and daily project work with instructors ensures that students are well-networked by graduation.

    Get Hired

    Graduates leave fully qualified for a data scientist job. Placement programs are available to all graduates.

    Important dates and deadlines:

    Open House: Tuesday, February 3 RSVP

    Spring bootcamp: April 6, 2015 - June 26, 2015
    Early Application Deadline: Monday, February 16
    Final Application Deadline: Monday, March 9

    Summer bootcamp: June 29, 2015 - September 18, 2015
    Early Application Deadline: Monday, May 11
    Final Application Deadline: Monday, June 1

    Thanks to Metis for sponsoring the feed this week.

  • Fibonacci sculptures fake movement

    Posted to Data Art  |  Tags: ,

    John Edmark made some pretty things:

    These 3-D printed sculptures, called blooms, are designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. The placement of the appendages is determined by the same method nature uses in pinecones and sunflowers. The rotation speed is synchronized to the strobe so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5°—the golden angle. If you count the number of spirals on any of these blooms you will find that they are always Fibonacci numbers.

    For this video, rather than using a strobe, the camera was set to a very short shutter speed (1/4000 sec) in order to freeze the spinning bloom.

    You can also make a bloom of your own using Edmark's instructions.

  • Snow depth by dogs

    Posted to Infographics  |  Tags: ,

    For the US east coasters and their pets.

  • Choropleth Maps and Shapefiles in R

    Posted to Tutorials  |  Tags: , ,

    Fill those empty polygons with color.
     Continue Reading 

  • Sexual insecurities found in Google search results

    Posted to Infographics  |  Tags: , ,

    Seth Stephens-Davidowitz continues with his Google search data-related op-eds for the New York Times. This time he looks at the insecurities in sex, based on the search volume of various phrases.

    Interesting. But preface the results with a big fat question of sample population before you make too many conclusions.

    For example, a straightforward conclusion from the above graphic is that boyfriends avoid sex way more than girlfriends. That seems off. Could it be that boyfriends avoiding sex confuses the girlfriends more than the other way around, thus making it more likely for girlfriends to search?

  • Metrocard purchasing workflows compared

    Posted to Design  |  Tags: ,

    The process to purchase a MetroCard for the New York Subway is different from the process to purchase tickets for the Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco. From the flowchart above by Aaron Reiss, it's clear that it takes a lot more screen touches to get a MetroCard, but that's only part of the story. The interesting part is why the two systems' machines are so different. Different timing means different goals.

  • The dots are people

    Posted to Design  |  Tags:

    The simple analysis is to approach data blind, as machine output. But this almost always produces an incomplete analysis and a detached, less than meaningful visualization. Jacob Harris, a developer at the New York Times, talks context, empathy, and what the dots represent.

    In reference to the New York Times' map of deaths in Baghdad after receiving the Wikileaks war logs:

    Before it was a final graphic though, it was a demo piece I hastily hacked into Google Earth using its KML format. I remember feeling pretty proud of myself at how cool even a crude rendering like this looked, and the detailed work I had done to pull out all the data within reports to see these dots surge and wane as I dragged the slider. Then I remembered that each of those data points was a life snuffed out, and I suddenly felt ashamed of my pride in my programming chops. As data journalists, we often prefer the "20,000 foot view," placing points on a map or trends on a chart. And so we often grapple with the problems such a perspective creates for us and our readers—and from a distance, it's easy to forget the dots are people. If I lose sight of that while I am making the map, how can I expect my readers to see it in the final product?

  • Jen Lowe being dangerous

    Being dangerous

    Posted to Data Sharing  |  Tags: ,

    Think big data, and it's tough not to associate it with big corporations who have their own interests in mind. Use data. Make money. It doesn't have to always be like that though. Jen Lowe, for the Deep Lab Lecture Series, talks about reclaiming some of that power with silent gestures through the web and using data for good.
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  • Convert geographic data to 3-D models for printing

    Posted to Software  |  Tags: , , ,

    This seems like fun. The NodeJS package shp2stl by Doug McCune lets you convert a shapefile to a 3-D model, which can then send to your favorite 3-D printer (because you know we all have at least two of them lying around). Assuming you have NodeJS setup, simply point the package to your shapefile, specify which attribute to use for height, and presto changeo there's your 3-D model.

  • Book logs

    Book checkouts from the British Library

    Posted to Infographics  |  Tags: ,

    In efforts to emphasize the importance of the library (very), the British Library released a video that simply shows ten minutes of book checkouts. Nothing fancy. Just an updating log of activity — and yet there's something mesmerizing about it.
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  • Whale songs visualized

    Posted to Data Art  |  Tags: ,

    It's been known for decades that the sounds that whales make show patterns and have a certain musicality to them. David Rothenberg and Mike Deal talk about the history of visualizing and analyzing the sounds, along with a visual interpretation of their own.
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  • Interactive: How Americans Get to Work

    Posted to Data Underload  |  Tags: ,

    The way that people get around can say a lot about how a place is made up.
     Continue Reading 

  • Feeling hot, hot, hot

    When you look at overall global temperatures over time, you see a rising line and new heat records set. Instead of just one line though, Tom Randall and Blacki Migliozzi for Bloomberg split up the time series by year and animated it.

    Each year is overlaid on top of the other with a new time series in each frame. The dotted line rises too as new records are set, and as time passes, the older time series lines fade to the background.

    You still get the rising effect as you would with a single time series over the past 135 years, but this view provides more focus to the increase, closer to present time.

  • Chart none of the things

    Posted to Design  |  Tags:

    When it comes to storytelling, copious amounts of data often means lots of charts. Sometimes though, a chart isn't what you need. Sarah Slobin, a graphics editor for the Wall Street Journal, talks about such an experience. The urge was to chart all the things, but in the end, there was a better route.

    Losing the graphics made sense to all of us on the project. What worked best for the story won out, as it should. We didn't need graphics for the sake of graphics, especially graphics that weren't working in service of the piece. And photos, while not numbers, are also data in their own right. My own internal calculus, data = charts, was based on habit and that habit had become like armor over time, I put it on without thinking before trudging off to battle. So now, at the outset of each project, I’m working on learning to be really honest with myself each time I sort through a set of statistics; "What does the reader really need here?" Not, "What cool thing can I do with these data?"