New York Tech Journal
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The Rise of the #DataArtist

Posted on March 9th, 2016


03/09/2016 @ PivotalLabs, 625 6th ave, NY

Olivier Meyer & Ryan Haber@Zoomdata talked about the advantages of interactive #DataAnalysis. They showed how a single picture can show the ruin of an army through cold and casualties. This was done by Charles Minard in his graphic of Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. There, 6 time series are displayed to great effect.

Next, they talked about the complexity of displaying facts buried in large data sets. This complexity creates a new category: Data artist who sits between the business analyst and the data scientist

They demonstrated how their program facilitates the interactive search for patterns in the data by retrieving only the relevant subset when needed for the graphics display. They call this microservices & data sharpening (initially a rough picture is presented, but results are refined as you watch).

Many interesting points were brought up in the discussion.

  1. Before diving into the data, one needs hypotheses of what is relevant to decision making
  2. Care must be taken, since interactive graphics (as in all graphics – see Darrell Huff “How to Lie with Statistics”) can inspire misleading or unfounded conclusions
  3. The data artist is obligated to present graphics that are truthful
  4. Generic templates may not be the best data presentation
  5. One needs to balance the customization of the data presentation with the time & effort expended to create an improved graphic
  6. Graphically inspired conclusions need to be supported by relevant statistics
  7. Frequently, statistics (alone) are not the best way to present findings
  8. The best way to communicate is dependent on the audience.
  9. The tools for data exploration may or may not be different from those for presenting conclusions.

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