11 February 2015

As Pretty As A Picture

I won't name names since, in this instance it makes no difference, but there's been a swell of visualization and data exploration meme a growin' in the gloming. Part of this is driven by the R contributions of Hadley Wickham which have made pictures as easy to make as Excel is for spreadsheets. The problem with ease of use is that the ignorant can do great damage; I'm talkin' 'bout you London Whale. This is especially true of pictures. They're really easy to use for propaganda or obfuscatory purposes.

So, if you're serious about data exploration and visualization, not just looking for some cute way to support The Boss's Agenda, thou shouldst read up a bit.

First, Cleveland's "Visualizing Data". He spends a good deal of time pointing out the ways in which visualizations is nefarious.

Second, one of these on data exploration:
Tukey's "Exploratory Data Analysis" if you want the source of the Nile kind of thing.

Or, Pearson's "Exploring Data in Engineering, the Sciences, and Medicine" if you want something nearly hot off the presses. He's had a blog about the book, which has been linked through R-bloggers, but I've not seen a new posting in a while.

Picasso is quoted, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." With data pictures, go the way of Raphael.

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