Friday, May 18, 2007

The good, bad and ugly graphs

In his May 2007 newsletter Stephen Few, a data visualization guru with an expertise in business data, created the The Graph Design I.Q. Test. "This brief I.Q. test leads you through a series of 10 questions that ask you to choose which of two graphs presents the data more effectively".

I took it myself (and Stephen is probably tracking my answers!) -- it's very cool and quickly teaches a good lesson in good vs. bad graphics and tables. You will be strongly discouraged after it to abuse color, 3D, etc.

If you got hooked, Stephen has a big bag of goodies for those who want to learn about creating good graphs and tables. He wrote a beautiful book called "show me the numbers"

His website's Library also included an abundance of useful articles.

Friday, May 11, 2007

NYT to mine their own data

You might ask yourself how on earth I have time for an entry during the last day of classes. Well, I don't. That's why I am doing it.

The New York Times recently announced to their stockholders that they are going to be revolutionary by mining their own data. As quoted from the village voice,
Data mining, [The company CEO Janet Robinson] told the crowd, would be used "to determine hidden patterns of uses to our website." This was just one of the many futuristic projects in the works by the newspapers company's research and development program

The article focuses on the alarm that this causes in terms of "what happens when the government comes in and subpoenas it?"

My question is, since every company and organization is mining (or potentially can mine) their own data anyway, what is the purpose of announcing it publicly? Clearly data mining is not such a "futuristic" act. What kind of "hidden patterns" are they looking for? the paths that readers take when they move between articles? what precedes their clicking an ad? Or maybe there is a futuristic goal?