How Many Left is a really good example of a polished, considered interface onto a dataset, details matter. howmanyleft.co.uk
— Alex Graul (@AlexGraul) May 12, 2013
“Math makes people feel stupid. It hurts to feel stupid.“
What can analyzing Facebook tell us about…us? Stephen Wolfram has some ideas. Some interesting visual choices here, too.
Andrew McAfee admonishes political pundits talking out of their behinds when it comes to data.
But personal reflections aside, Harris’s post made some good philosophical points to keep in mind when working with data, apart from any questions of coding. It’s all too easy in journalism to think you know what the story is and then to go looking for information that confirms the story, and ignore counterexamples. (For examples of this, see most of human thought.) On the surface, having a bunch of hard, precise-looking numbers in front of you would seem to mitigate that— but the opposite can be true. The data can’t tell the reporter what its limitations are. It’s up to the reporter to figure out what the unknowns, limitations and biases are hidden beneath the veneer of objectivity.
It is easy to think we know more than we know, and when we’re tasked with explaining the goings-on in the world, the temptation to overstate cause and effect can seem irresistible. But properly interrogated data can help us tell better stories and— perhaps more importantly— tell us what we don’t know.
More than “cool” —“A triumph of data journalism,” says the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.