27 August 2009

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Numbers

Via Chart Porn (you heard me), the last in a long series of links, was this little gem (click to embiggen):

This is life as a series of months---with each blob representing a month in an average lifespan...and the colored blobs the average points for becoming a parent, etc. I like this idea. I see some interesting potential, both personal and for the classroom.

Or perhaps you've seen Personas from MIT---a place where information about you is aggregated from across the web to show you how the web sees you. Here is what it displayed for "Science Goddess." (Sadly, there was only one analysis available for my real name...but 17 for my alias.) The largest bands, as you might imagine are for "online," "education," and "social." Not sure why "sports" (in yellow) is so broad, but I am also not the only "science goddess" running around on the internet.

I've been collecting more and more examples of data visualization recently. So far, there are few fancy tools for the layperson, but I have to think it won't be long before a variety of tools are both readily available and simple to use. I can't help but think that these could be powerful for schools. Do we need people in school districts who crunch test score numbers for us...or do we need people who can show us the meaning within than numbers? We need some of both. Here's hoping we have the right tools soon.


Clix said...

It looks like I'm the only Clicketykeys. How did you manage to save your image?

Roger Sweeny said...

Some of the best data visualization is simple in concept. I recently came across this:


The Science Goddess said...

Clix---I had to do a screenshot.

Roger---Interesting graphic analysis. Thanks for passing that link along!

I keep thinking that there should be a simple way to apply these sorts of things for the classroom. We can do them now, of course, but they can be somewhat labor intensive. I hope that as we see more and more of these sorts of graphics in other areas, someone will make the transition to education.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Hey SG, Today I was working on a visual for the new grading policy I hope we'll introduce this year.

I'll email it when it's finished. My first attempt led to a completely different, but slicker,

The Science Goddess said...

I look forward to seeing it, Hugh. Hope you've had a great summer.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

What summer? Tempus fugited to the maximus.

Had a good week at the coast when the heat was on last week, with my wife and her mom. My son's been real busy guiding fly fishing trips on the Lower Deschutes.

And our school board is getting used to the idea that we can't trust our city council not to try to appropriate school land! I will send you a photo of the old high school 65% demolished. They tried to take it from us, along with the land it sits on, because it's in the downtown "urban" area and they need "shovel ready" land for economic development.

I'm really holding back on blogging about all that on Straight Talk because I don't want to light a stick of dynamite. But you never know. If they persist in their efforts to control us, the gloves will be off.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Oh yeah, I did the Persona thing with my real name. That program has all the discriminatory power of a one-year-old, and I think that's their point about www analysis of anything!

You wouldn't believe how many of me are out there. :)