Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November Analytics magazine on BI

click to read the latest issue
A bunch of interesting articles about business analytics and predictive analytics from a managerial point of view, in the November issue of INFORMS Analytics magazine.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Data visualization in the media: Interesting video

A colleague who knows my fascination with data visualization pointed me to a recent interesting video created by Geoff McGhee on Journalism in the Age of Data. In this 8-part video, he interviews media people who create visualizations for their websites at the New York Times, Washington Post, CNBC, and more. It is interesting to see their view of why interactive visualization might be useful to their audience, and how it is linked to "good journalism".

Also interviewed are a few visualization interface developers (e.g., IBM's Many Eyes designers) as well as Infographics experts and participants at the major Inforgraphics conference in Pamplona, Spain. The line between beautiful visualizations (art) and effective ones is discussed in Part IV ("too sexy for its own good" - Gert Nielsen) - see also John Grimwade's article.

Journalism in the Age of Data from Geoff McGhee on Vimeo.

The videos can be downloaded as a series of 8 podcasts, for those with narrower bandwidth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ASA's magazine: Excel's default charts

Being in Bhutan this year, I have requested the American Statistical Association (ASA) and INFORMS to mail the magazines that come with my membership to Bhutan. Although I can access the magazines online, I greatly enjoy receiving the issues by mail (even if a month late) and leafing through them leisurely. Not to mention the ability to share them with local colleagues who are seeing these magazines for the first time!

Now to the data-analytic reason for my post: The main article in the August 2010 issue of AMSTAT News (the ASA's magazine) on Fellow Award: Revisited (Again) presented an "update to previous articles about counts of fellow nominees and awardees." The article comprised of many tables and line charts. While charts are a great way to present a data-based story, the charts in this article were of low quality (see image below). Apparently, the authors used Excel 2003's defaults, which have poor graphic qualities and too much chart-junk: a dark grey background, horizontal gridlines, line color not very suitable for black-white printing (such as the print issue), a redundant combination of line color and marker shape, and redundant decimals on several of the plot y-axis labels.

As the flagship magazine of the ASA, I hope that the editors will scrutinize the graphics and data visualizations used in the articles, and perhaps offer authors access to a powerful data visualization software such as TIBCO Spotfire, Tableau, or SAS JMP. Major newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post now produce high-quality visualizations. Statistics magazines mustn't fall behind!