Significant digits and relevance

Posted to Design  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Lulu Pinney goes over the subtle art of working with significant digits:

When we say on the phone "I'll be there in half an hour" it’s quite likely we'll arrive sometime in the next 25 to 35 minutes. But for the context of meeting up with a friend "half an hour" will do. If you said "see you in 27 minutes" that would raise a laugh being an odd level of precision for the given context. The same ideas apply to numbers in journalism.

Important in both accurate representation of data and readability.

1 Comment

  • Sometimes I can see exceptions. People overuse the words:
    “give me a second”
    “…one second”
    “….five minutes I promise”
    When I was a kid working in our family owned ice cream shop years ago, I use to tell customers the frozen yogurt machine will be ready in three minutes simply because I noticed if I said five minutes, they would just walk away assuming it’ll be closer to fifteen minutes.

Favorites

Watching the growth of Walmart – now with 100% more Sam’s Club

The ever so popular Walmart growth map gets an update, and yes, it still looks like a wildfire. Sam’s Club follows soon after, although not nearly as vigorously.

Most popular porn searches, by state

We’ve seen that we can learn from what people search for, through the eyes of Google suggestions: state stereotypes, national …

Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.

Where People Run in Major Cities

There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities. Record speed, …