Data scientist Edward Tufte (dubbed the "Galileo of graphics" by BusinessWeek) pioneered the field of data visualization. Tufte discusses what he calls "forever knowledge," and his latest projects: sculpting Richard Feynman’s diagrams, and helping people "see without words."
Tagged with “data” (17)
Robert Siegel speaks with Harper Reed, who was chief technology officer for the Obama reelection campaign, about the strategies they employed to mobilize volunteers and reach voters.
A data visualization, when done well, can be an incredibly powerful way to communicate information. It ultimately boils down to the choices you make in how to design and present the data. If you make the wrong choice you can run the risk of not accurately displaying the data or struggling to effectively tell its story.
Brian Suda, author of A Practical Guide to Designing with Data, believes experimentation is a big part of arriving at the right choices. As ideas end up on the cutting room floor, not only do you arrive at a great visualization, but you’re building your toolbox along the way. This practice and experimentation leaves you with a template to apply to future projects.
Essentially, arriving at the right choices now allows you to make better choices later. If you learn the best ways to represent different types of data, you can then apply that knowledge to any data sets you may have to visualize.
Brian will be sharing his insights on data visualizations in his virtual seminar, The Design Choices You Make for Information: How to Create Great Data Visualizations, on Thursday, May 17. You won’t want to miss out on Brian’s pragmatic tips and techniques. Save your spot in Brian’s seminar.
As always, we love to hear what you’re thinking. Share your thoughts with us in our comments section.
From IT Conversations: Visual data is far easier to understand and analyze than the same information in written format. Using a variety of examples that range from maps and charts to the effects of gravity on the Earth and comparisons of carbon dioxide output by country, David Holoboff gives a quick presentation about the benefits of visual data in all sectors of modern and future life.
In the past couple of years, computing, storage and bandwidth capacity have become so cheap that it’s altered the scale of what’s possible in terms of collecting and analyzing data at every turn. It’s a tectonic shift that will continue to affect many things we do for decades to come, one expert says.
Anniemole is the London Underground Tube Diary blogger and Sam Mullens is the director of the London Transport Museum, we met at the Sense and the City exhibition at the museum to talk about how the gadget in your pocket could play a big part in the future of how you get around. Interestingly the exhibition not only promises a hack-day soon, it also provides some beautiful visualisations of how we get around the city.
Nathan Yau is a statistics Phd Student who has written a book called "Visualize This". It’s a great guide for those who may be interested in creating their own visualisations but are not sure where to start.
Scrunchup interviews Brian Suda on his recently published 5 Simple Steps book that has just been published called Designing with Data.
The immense amounts of data collected by local, state and federal government agencies can be an incredibly valuable trove for enterprising journalists. It can also be a pointless slog. Texas Tribune reporter Matt Stiles and Duke University computational journalism professor Sarah Cohen explain how they find good stories in a sea of government data.
At the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, the justices for the first time will hear a case that tests what limits the government may put on data mining for commercial purposes. At issue is whether a state may bar the buying, selling, and profiling of doctors’ prescription records for use by pharmaceutical sales representatives.
Under federal and state law, pharmacies are required to keep records of every doctor’s prescription, and while patient privacy is protected by federal law, doctor privacy is not.
Pharmacies can and do sell prescription information to data miners, who in turn aggregate it to show each doctor’s name, the number of prescriptions written for each drug, prescriptions for similar drugs, and changes from one drug to another. The data miners then sell that information to drug manufacturers, to help sales representatives target doctors for sales pitches and try to get them to prescribe, for example, a brand name instead of a generic.
Until relatively recently, doctors did not know this was happening, according to Paula Duncan, president of the Vermont Medical Society. She says that Vermont doctors were "very surprised" to learn that their prescription patterns could be so easily identified and sold.
So the medical society went to the state legislature to "[make] sure that the privacy of the physician-patient relationship was really kept intact and free from other influences."
The state enacted a law that bars the selling and buying of prescription information without a doctor’s consent. Under the law, doctors must fill out a form as a part of their license renewal application, which indicates whether they agree to have their prescription information sold for marketing purposes.
Data miners, backed by the pharmaceutical industry, immediately challenged the law in court, and won. The state then appealed to the Supreme Court, which hears arguments in the case on Tuesday.
The Two Arguments
The data miners will tell the justices that the law unconstitutionally impedes free speech. "Vermont can’t try and keep information out of the hands of doctors and nurse practitioners that’s truthful and incredibly important about the health and safety of prescription drugs," says the industry’s lawyer, Thomas Goldstein.
But Vermont counters that its law stops no one from speaking. Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay will tell the justices that the state’s law "doesn’t do anything to stop pharmaceutical manufacturers from sending their salespeople to doctors" or from telling doctors "why they think their products are better, or are more effective, or worth the money."
This isn’t a case about the right of free speech, she says. It’s about "whether doctors have a right to control the use of their prescribing information against an unwanted marketing practice."
Goldstein counters that there is more at stake here because the state allows insurers and its own Medicaid managers to have access to prescribing information, while barring the same information from data miners and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The Constitution, he maintains, does not allow the state to "play favorites in this way."
"Vermont can and does encourage doctors to use generics," says Goldstein. "But what it can’t do is at the same time tie the hands of the people who want to convey the opposite message."
But Asay replies that insurers and state Medicaid managers do not buy their information from pharmacies and data vendors. She says they get the information directly from doctors and patients as part of managing benefits.
The pharmaceutical industry, with an army of thousands of salespeople, spends at least $8 billion each year marketing drugs in person to doctors. It is a system that has proven highly resistant to change, despite criticism from experts such as Philip Pizzo, dean of Stanford University School of Medicine.
"Given today’s information technology there is no reason why information about new drugs, side effects or drugs in general needs to come from marketing reps," Pizzo said during a 2006 discussion of medical ethics at the Cleveland Clinic. And Roy Vagelos, a former CEO of Merck, said that his attempts to use technology for marketing to doctors had failed, largely because of opposition from the very sales reps who make their living selling pharmaceuticals to doctors.
Tuesday’s case, however, extends far beyond the pharmaceutical industry, with larger implications for the data mining industry and for consumers in general.
Lawyer Goldstein describes the issue from the industry perspective, arguing that "if Vermont is right that the collection and manipulation of data isn’t free speech, then the government can regulate it however it wants." He says that even data mining for non-marketing purposes, such as news reporting and analysis, could be in danger.
But Vermont’s Asay takes the opposite view. If the Supreme Court says a pharmacy has a First Amendment right to sell the information it collects from its patients and doctors, she says, "that ruling would extend … to other businesses that also collect personal information from consumers, like banks and other financial institutions, other health care organizations, tracking on the Internet, and credit card purchasing information."
Indeed, there are countless companies that collect and sell consumers’ personal information, and Tuesday’s Supreme Court case is the first to test the limits of that practice.
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