Book of the Week: Developing Business Scorecard Metrics + Smoot’s Ear

What are three char­ac­ter­is­tics of good busi­ness score­card met­rics? In con­struct­ing an effec­tive met­ric, the designer needs to look at three fac­tors before set­ting tar­gets: 1) Sim­plic­ity: Is the met­ric sim­ple and easy to under­stand? Is there a direct rela­tion­ship between action and result? For exam­ple, say this is a retailer who oper­ates in multiple […]


Chart of the Week: Bucket vs. Pail

What’s the dif­fer­ence between a pail and a bucket? Accord­ing to this chart in Word Geog­ra­phy of the East­ern States (Kurath, 1941), most of the New Eng­land and New York use “pail” (tri­an­gle) , while Penn­syl­va­nia and the lower mid-​Atlantic states use “bucket”. Data con­text: Kurath had local research teams who focused on cities and […]


Gifts for Data Geeks: My Life in Graphs

Gifts for Data Sci­en­tists and other data geeks: My Life in Graphs from Knock Knock Design is a gruided jour­nal where you write about your life using graphs and charts. In Seat­tle, it’s avail­able at Elliot Bay Book Com­pany in Queen Anne or online through Amazon.


Book of the Week: History of Topographical Maps

The His­tory of Topo­graph­i­cal Maps by P D A Har­vey is a schol­arly sur­vey of how the topo­graph­i­cal map was devel­oped, begin­ning in clas­si­cal antiq­uity through medieval times. I saw it in a local used book­shop in Red­mond near my house. Car­tog­ra­phy has always fas­ci­nated me, esoe­cially the­matic maps that visu­al­ize data. The book looks […]


New Series for 2013: Classification as a Tool of Thought

Clas­si­fi­ca­tion and tax­on­omy has always inter­ested me and this year I’d like to exam­ine how clas­si­fi­ca­tion and group­ing impacts analy­sis. Group­ing data in var­i­ous tax­onomies can have a vari­ety of results: dis­as­ter, if the cat­e­go­riza­tion scheme hides or sug­gests arbi­trary things when there is no nec­es­sary con­nec­tion or if the con­nec­tion is biased, or deeply […]


Chart of the Week: Climate: Chennai, Oban, Sapporo

T hree cli­mate charts show­ing Chen­nai (Madras) India, Oban, Scot­land UK, and Sap­poro, Hokkaido Japan. These charts con­dense monthly cli­mate data — high, low, aver­age tem­per­a­ture, and days of sun­shine into one text-​based chart. (Source: Wikipedia) Chen­nai is warm year-​round with a dis­tinct rainy sea­son in October-​November and light pre­cip­i­ta­tion in Jan– May. Oban is […]


Smart Fork — Big Data and Healthy Eating

hapi labs is intro­duc­ing a “smart fork” at CES this year. It is a fork with a built in sen­sor to track: Fork serv­ings — how long it takes from the plate to the mouth The amount of “fork serv­ings” taken per minute. Inter­vals between “fork serv­ings”. How long it took to eat a meal. […]


New Tool: Graph Commons

Graph Com­mons is a new tool that I’m play­ing with. Sim­i­lar to sites like Many Eyes, you can upload data, cre­ate graphs, and share with other com­mu­nity mem­bers. The tool focuses on net­work dia­grams. Here’s an exam­ple of how a tax­on­omy for archi­tec­tural types based on the book Isms: Under­stand­ing Archi­tec­ture. I will try to […]


Start-​Cap — RFID enabled bottle cap

Start-​cap is a bot­tle­cap with embed­ded RFID capa­bil­ity. It’s still exper­i­men­tal, but some ideas its cre­ators have explored are “flash-​mob” like actions. The cap can enable a glit­ter can­non in a bar or turn on a spot­light in a bar. It will be inter­est­ing to see what hap­pens when the indi­vid­ual caps inter­act with each […]


Classifying Sporks, Spifes, and Knorks…

How do you clas­sify eat­ing uten­sils and odd hybrids like sporks (spoon-​fork), spifes (spoon-​knife), knorks (knife-​fork), sporfs and splayds(spoon-fork-knife)? One way is to clas­sify by uten­sil and com­bi­na­tion of uten­sils: Fork: semi to solid foods Spoon: liq­uids to semi-​solid foods Knife — solid foods (for prepa­ra­tion) Spork: Fork-​Spoon — liq­uids to solid foods Knork: Fork-​knife– […]