• The Most Trendy Names in US History

    July 29, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Names are incredibly personal things. It's how we identity ourselves. We associate others, places, and points in our past with names. Maybe you recall a family member, a celebrity, or a significant other.

    At the same time, it's not uncommon for two people with the same name to run into each other, and it's why gift shops can sell and profit from those mini license plates. Parents decide what they want to call their kid at some point. So as you walk through history, you end up with names that surge, some that die off, and some that come back again.

    Hilary Parker already looked at the most poisoned name in US history (her own). Here we look at names from the other direction. The most trendy:

    Most trendy names
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  • Economist spotting

    July 11, 2013  |  Data Points

    It was surprisingly hard for me to find a physical copy of this week's The Economist, but I got it. Pretty awesome:

    A page from The Economist.jpg

  • Reading the data

    July 6, 2013  |  Data Points

    The Economist covered a handful of visualization books in this week's issue, and Data Points was in the bunch (nice). Here is the review's accompanying video:

  • Grocery store geography

    June 26, 2013  |  Data Underload

    Where the grocery stores are

    I've been poking around grocery store locations, courtesy of AggData, the past few days.

    There's a grocery store just about everywhere you go in the United States, because, well, we gotta eat. They look similar in that they sell produce on one side, meat in the back, and snacks and soda on the side opposite the produce. Magazines and small candies are carefully situated at eye-level by the cash registers. There's usually a deli counter and prepared foods near the bread section. And yet, despite the generic format and layout, these stores can remind us of places and specific periods of our lives.
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  • What the Sexes Want, in Speed Dating

    June 12, 2013  |  Data Underload


    A few years ago I downloaded speed dating data from experiments conducted by Raymond Fisman, et al. (2005), which represents about 8,000 dates by 551 people. On each date, people scored each other on attractiveness, intelligence, ambition, and some other things, along with a yes or a no to seeing the other person again on a regular date.

    Fisman, et al. noted gender differences in mate selection, such as: "Women put greater weight on the intelligence and the race of partner, while men respond more to physical attractiveness." And this: "Men do not value women's intelligence or ambition when it exceeds their own." Seemed like data worth checking out.
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  • Data Points: Sample chapter

    May 10, 2013  |  Data Points

    It's hard to believe it's been over a month since Data Points: Visualization That Means Something hit the shelves. Thanks to all of you for the tweets, emails, and pictures of the book in the wild. Every one make me smile, and I'm glad that people are finding it helpful.

    In case you're still deciding, here's a sample chapter from the book. It's Chapter 3 on representing data and should give you a good idea of what to expect. And of course it's way sexier in print.
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  • Introducing Data Points

    April 4, 2013  |  Data Points

    Whoa, that was fast. Data Points is now available. Thanks to all of you for making this possible.

  • Data Points: Preview

    April 3, 2013  |  Data Points

    Data Points by Nathan Yau

    This appeared at my door today. It's awesome.

    I suspect those who pre-ordered Data Points (thanks!) should receive their copies soon.
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  • Data Points: What it’s like to write a book

    March 25, 2013  |  Data Points

    Data Points numbers

    As the publication of Data Points nears, I'm excited to hold it in my hands just like I was the first time. It feels weird to say that. In college, a 5-page report seemed like too much to handle, and I would hunt for fonts that took the most space and fiddled with margins to produce more pages, without making it look like I did. I guess a lot can happen in 10 years. Heck, a lot can happen in a few months.

    I think the difference is that now I'm writing about something that's interesting to me — topics that I immerse myself in for fun — which makes the book-writing process fun.

    Sure, it can be challenging at times, but in the best way possible. Here's my experience with Data Points.
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  • Data Points: First look

    January 22, 2013  |  Data Points

    Data Points: Visualization that Means SomethingFor the past year, I've been working on Data Points: Visualization that Means Something, and you can pre-order it now.

    Visualization has grown a lot in the 5-something years I've written for FlowingData. It's not just a tool for analysis anymore. Visualization is a way to express data, and it comes in the form of information graphics, entertainment, everyday interfaces, data art, and yeah, tools, too. Your approach to data and visualization changes based on application.

    But even with all these (awesome) new applications, there's a constant across all of them: the data.

    Data Points starts here, and takes you through the process of understanding data, representing it, exploring it, and designing for different applications. Whereas Visualize This was about getting your feet wet with lots of code examples, Data Points is code-independent and is a perfect complement that helps you understand and allow others to understand data better, which is sorta the whole point.

    The manuscript is written, the 240 graphics (by me and many of your favorites) are set, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

    It'll officially be out late March or early April. Crazy, nerve-racking, and exciting all at the same time.

    More details to come. Until then: pre-order the book today.

  • The real A/C repair schedule

    October 4, 2012  |  Data Underload


    My central air conditioner started to suck about a month ago, so I called A/C repair. It took them five appointments, four to assess the problem and one to fix it. The trouble was that for each appointment they'd give me a four-hour window, and every time except the last, they arrived about a half an hour outside the window.

    I think they might need to tweak their scheduling system, unless their end game is to set expectations so low that an on-time arrival seems amazing. If that's the case, well, I slow clap in your direction, A/C repair.

  • What 3-D pie charts are good for

    June 15, 2012  |  Data Underload

    Suck on that, Conway.

    3-D pie charts are never a good idea? Ha. You just got served.

  • Life Expectancy Changes

    Girls expected to live shorter lives in some counties?

    We've seen life expectancy at the country and state levels, but the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation recently released life expectancy data at the county level.
  • More on the pay gap graphic

    April 23, 2012  |  Projects

    A couple weeks ago, I looked at gender pay gap data to see how the differences have changed over the past nine years. This was after seeing Narrow the Gapp by Gina Trapani and then a Time Magazine cover story on how more women are becoming the main earners of households. A little after that, Mike Bostock posted his D3 port of GapMinder's well-known Wealth & Health of Nations, and the New York Times interactive by Hannah Fairfield and Graham Roberts from 2010 came to mind. My idea was to combine the two as a recreation of the latter, with a couple of my own interactions. I went to work on a bunch of horrible government PDFs and then pulled it all together.

    (I was mostly interested in what the data looked like. I was hoping to see a counterclockwise turn towards the equal pay gap line, but of course, it's never that simple.)

    At some time late at night, I put up the graphic and hastily posted about it. I wrote in the footer of the graphic that it was an update to the NYT version that made use of Mike's D3 and left it at that. And that was fine. There were some good comments, and I was happy that Graham and Hannah shared it on Twitter.

    But then there was confusion when my graphic went up on CNNMoney a few days later without a nod to NYT. That's when I got my first taste of online bitter. It tastes bad, and it's kind of scary how quick people are to think the worst.

    However, it was an honest mistake by both CNNMoney and me. They didn't catch the note in the footer, so they didn't realize I had recreated the NYT graphic. They were quick to act when they found out though, so good on them.

    As for me, I live in a bubble where I share whatever I want on FlowingData and all the mini-projects I work on simply come out of my own curiosities. I didn't even think about possible conflicts when I was asked if it was okay to share the graphic. We did something similar with the Walmart map a while back, and the contrast between comments from CNN's general audience and FlowingData's was fun to see. So I just said sure. I should have thought a little harder.

    Anyways, I've learned my lesson. I'll make recreations more clear — if I do them at all at this point — and no more hasty posts late at night.

  • Pay Gap

    Gender wage gap, how much less women make than men

    Three or four articles on the gender wage gap popped up on my radar last week, some focusing on the rise of women as the lead household earner and others on how much less women make. I took a look.
  • Changing face of plastic surgery

    February 24, 2012  |  Projects

    Changing face of plastic surgery

    Many people aren't happy with their face or body, and a proportion of those turn to plastic surgery to try to alleviate their displeasure. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual report shows just how many have opted for cosmetic surgical procedures. There were nearly 1.6 million of them performed in 2011, along with 12.2 million minimally-invasive procedures.

    The above chart compares the distributions of the former from 2000 (shown in green) to 2011 (shown in blue). The two years are overlaid, and procedures are roughly organized by spot on the body. Breast augmentation led the way in 2011 with about 307,000 performed.

  • cutting-cable

    Why I want to quit cable

    There are good reasons to cancel cable, but there were a few channels and programs that kept me on. When you look at it in dollars though, it's hard to justify the value for the cost.
  • Where are the biggest box office movies (not) streaming?

    January 20, 2012  |  Projects

    Big movie streaming

    After seeing Tristan Louis' list that tallied the streaming availability of 2011's top 100 box office hits, I was curious what it looked like graphically. So I put together this little number. Blue means available, yellow means not, and gray means it's only available for purchase. The last column for DVD simply means it's available (since DVDs are of course not streaming).

    Netflix streaming still isn't a place to find the big movies (as any Netflix customer can tell you), with only five of the top 100 available. There is greater streaming availability from iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu, but those of course aren't fair comparisons to Netflix, given that the latter is subscription-only.

    My main takeaway is that if you're deciding between the non-subscription services, it looks like price is the main thing to look at, since there doesn't seem to be much variability in availability (although it could be different for smaller movies). As for Netflix, subscribe for the television and for the movies less so.

    [Tristan Louis via Waxy]

  • Vehicles involved in fatal crashes

    Vehicles involved in fatal crashes

    After seeing a map in The Guardian, I was curious about what other data was available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. It turns out there's a lot.
  • Visualize This: Signed copies available

    December 7, 2011  |  The Book

    Quick announcement: I have a handful of signed Visualize This copies available in case you're looking for a gift for that data geek cousin or you're up for some learning over the holidays. I only have a limited supply, so grab a copy before they're gone. And of course, you can still get an untarnished version at the major booksellers.

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