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Showing posts from October, 2008

Let us now praise data dumps

As someone who deeply appreciates raw data and admires those who wrangle it, I have to give a shoutout to my fellow travelers out there:
Big bunches of ripe bananas to the primates over at Infochimps, "a community to assemble and interconnect a giant free almanac, with tables on everything you can put in a table—things like a century of hourly weather, every major league baseball game, decades of stock prices, or every US patent filing." Check out the (still small but interesting) visualization gallery.Numbrary, whose name is self-explanatory, is "a free online service dedicated to finding, using and sharing numbers on the web." At present its focus seems to be financial and demographic, with info from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau, the SEC EDGAR Database and CIA - The World Factbook.Swivel, which aims to "make it easy for everyone to collaborate…

Edward Tufte and why he matters

Well, first of all, he's my hero, and has been since I first attended one of his seminars back in 1987. More to the point, I'm far from alone in my appreciation of him, and here's why:
I described Edward Tufte as a graphic designer, but that’s not exactly right. His field is almost sui generis, containing bits and pieces of art direction, data-crunching, economics, historical research, and plain old expository writing. It’s often labeled “information architecture,” or “analytic design.” Tufte himself describes it many ways, but one is drawn from a classic piece of science writing: “escaping Flatland,” or using paper’s two dimensions to convey several more. Another, more acidic description: “getting design out of fashion and out of the hands of Microsoft.”

His four books have collectively been called a Strunk and White for design. Tufte works by showing both outstanding and horrid graphics he’s found, improving upon the latter, and his principles take on the meditative qualit…

Tufte would be pleased.

Interesting how you can lie with statistics even when you set out to tell the truth.

Viveka Weiley at Karmanaut has redrawn a recent Washington Post chart purporting to show how Obama's tax plan compares to McCain's.

As she notes, the WP original is not to scale; all nine tax brackets are drawn the same size, thereby suggesting that the number of people in each of tax bracket is roughly equivalent, and that there'd be just as many people paying the top marginal rate as there would be paying the lowest rate.

In fact, that top echelon (annual income over $2.87 million) comprises only one-tenth of 1% of the population. (source)

P.S. Weiley herself has no dog in this bloody political fight: She's based in Sydney, Australia.