- Most presenters talked about simplified visualizations better convey topics to non-data people.
- There are few good programs to correct data file imperfections.
- Most companies present dashboards without insight generalization. Users need to draw their own conclusions from the visualizations presented.
- Designers hate pie charts.
- What is truly evil is the exploding pie chart (which I now know how to make, ha!)
Good morning Seattle! I got up early today and went for a stroll around the downtown area just before sunrise. I shot pic above down by the water. I realize now that one does not simply stroll east-west as the rolling terrain make it more ascending mountains. I was almost late to rendezvous with my colleagues at the hotel. Again food at the conference had a high nom factor.
Session #12: Keynote: Dr. John J. Medina—The Business Brain
I didn’t have a clue to who Dr. Medina, the author of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, was before the session and asked around to see if anyone else knew who he was to no avail. I guess he wasn’t a contestant on Dancing with the Stars or Idol. I first thought he’d going to go on about how people think or ways to excel at work or home, but instead the topic was sleep. A great topic indeed.
- Myth: People use <10% of their brain. It is actually 50-60%.
- Myth #2: There are left and right brained people. There is no evidence of this. Humans need both to survive.
- Our brain evolved to survive outside. We are wired to notice changes in weather, sensing motion, and looking for things that aid in survival.
- Brain as two parts
- Generator – Affected by mood, what we eat, sickness and sleep
- Spotlight – Our attention and stimulus receptors
Four levels of sleep depravation
- Worsening working memory
- Motor skills worsen
- Hallucinations similar to LSD
Sleep deprived people don’t realize they need sleep in the first two stages, but those around them do.
How we get sleep depravation
- 5 days w/6 hours of sleep a night is like being up 48 hours straight (felt that when I was Seattle)
- If someone is up 18 hours in one day, it takes 3 to 4 days to correct the issue.
Takeaway: Sleep is the best career move. Get some. Hopefully my boss will let me take naps after lunch, for my health…that’s the ticket.
Session #13: 100 Years of Visualization Best Practices—It’s Time to Stop Making the Same Mistakes
- When zero could be a real number in a visualization, start the axis at zero. Otherwise the perspective can be distorted.
- The title and images in the visualization tell their own story
- Use a checklist to make sure visualization meet the needs of the user
“Show me the numbers” – Stephen Few
Keys to data visualization
- Data interactivity – Use over time, YoY or averages to give context
- Isotype – Use shapes that are similar to what you are measuring. Like footballs for the number of catches a receiver makes.
- Don’t size by area, it is not effective. Make the keys understandable.
No, bad Economist, no.
This was original.
This is what Andy created using the same data. Notice how the convey different a meaning. The top one is more visceral, but the latter one really tells a positive story (well before ISIS hung is shingle in Iraq and Syria.)
Thanks Patty for the snaps.
Look! Pie charts even in 1914. They’re eternal I tell you.
Note: This book has some great visualizations. If you have the time, I’d recommend skimming the book for ideas.
Takeaway: The visualizations used can change how the reader perceives the insight. Think about this when displaying data. Review the book, it is nearly as good as Edward Tufte’s, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, another one I highly recommend.
Session #14: General Motors Design Center: Connecting a Data-Driven Business with a Visually-Driven Team
I wasn’t expecting grandeur, after all this was a presentation by a GM, a company until recently was known as Government Motors. My perception changed as Ben Pope took the mic. He a affable, witty, and most importantly knew analytics. He even built his presentation in Tableau and not PowerPoint, I true analytics deity.
GM implemented a graphic view for their projects forgoing the horrendous UI of Microsoft Project and their other internal project systems.
- It is used in 10 design centers worldwide with 2,500 people
- Built with strong IT and management support (which is needed for analytic project in my opinion)
- Holds all data sources in one workbook. The they can make changes centrally and push it to the server.
- Have 3 analysts working and maintaining their dashboards.
Picture doesn’t do it justice.
Rough sketch of the data workflow. Missing the piece of pull from Microsoft SharePoint to Access (likely to get user information.)
Takeaway: It is important to get your stakeholders involved earlier and have a strategic direction to help analytics teams when creating visualizations.
Session #15: Keynote: Hans Rosling—Future Global Trends: A Fact-Based View
I was looking forward to Hans Rosling closing out the conference. I am a big fan of Gapminder.org, a organization he help to found. A few years ago in the pre-Tableau and Excel 2013 days, I used the software his organization created to make a bunch of dashboards in Flash. During that time, I got to play with the world data he showed to the audience. Tableau has this data available natively in its products.
He ask six questions to the audience. Before proceeding, take the survey to see if you’re l33t enough to continue: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/world/gapminder-us-ignorance-survey/
Answers: http://www.gapminder.org/GapminderMedia/wp-uploads/Results-from-the-Ignorance-Survey-in-the-US..pdf (love the filename)
Anyway, he was frank and funny, a great presenter.
- Population in 2100: 5 billion Asia, 4 Africa, 1 Americas, and 1 Europe
- Peak child will be in 2014 to 2016. That means their will be only 2.1 billion people under 18 in the world each year from now to 2100.
- The lack of gender equality lowers fertility in middle income and advanced countries (see China and Japan.) It has no affect on those making <$1.25/day. This is because of high child mortality rates, which in turn increase birth rates.
- Two factors that have contributed most to the declining birth rate: vaccinations (sorry anti-vaxors) and globalization (sorry protectionists and greens)
- Once families make more than $10/day, birth rate declines . Children are healthier (survive) and don’t have to work. They go to school and become more educated after which they make more than their parents and have even fewer children.
- High-income earners have more children provided there is a high level of gender equality.
- Most high income countries have a lower birth rate than the replacement rate (2.1 children/woman.) This means their populations will stabilize and shrink (unless there is immigration.)
I was inspired to draw again during the presentation. I thought of a way to do rolling overtime with a YoY graphic programmatically directly from a DB2 data source. When I have the time, I will implement it on a daily basis and make the DBAs cry.
The conference let out early on the last day, so I went back to Pike Place Market while it was still open. It is a cool scene when open with all the activity from locals and tourists. Much of the food was fresh. I spied an ostrich and emu eggs for sale. I thought, briefly about taking one to take back. Then I realized that I had no place to put it in my luggage. Even if I could manage, the TSA would not keep it whole (like what happened to my jar of garlic spread, grrr.)
Them are some big lobster tails.
After poking around a bit, the group that I was with headed toward the bay to eat. After some side treks, we heads to Anthony’s Pier 66, just north of the Seattle Aquarium, where we went to sit up so we looked down on the water. I ordered swordfish, which was good, but I decided not my favorite type of fish. It was too cooked. Fish is better in its natural state–raw. Overall, the food and service was decent and adequate enough for a bunch of tired convention attendees.
After eating, everything that had happened hit my mind at once. It was a zen realization that I was dog tired and only wanted to hit the pillow for a few hours before the early 7am flight back to the Midwest.
The recap for day number three:
- Sleep is more important than staying up all an finishing the next round of Civilization, get some and often.
- Edward Tufte wasn’t the first person to think of how to display data.
- There is no one way to get data into Tableau. Most companies use CSV or Excel rather than go directly against data stores.
- IT limitations will cause data analysts to do crazy things. It is important to collaborate with IT to set up reporting systems correctly.
- The population will stabilize and get older as the world gets richer. That is a comforting thought for the future of humanity unless a big rock falls from the sky.
About the Conference
The conference overall was slickly produced and well run. Things of note:
- The TCC14-Data14 app was well produced and was built on Event Base technology. It bridged nicely between the virtual and physical world. Tableau added all of the sessions, happenings, maps, surveys and even a game in the app itself. More impressively, the kept it constantly up to date. I think that it would be a useful tool for any company wanting to hold events with hundreds of people.
- Tableau used the app and other technology during check-in to see what programs they needed to add during the conference. The app was constantly pinging about sessions moving to larger venues or added to accommodate popular topics.
- The lament the size of the lanyard, but it did have a map in the sleeve so you did have to pull out your phone/tablet to see where you needed to go.
- Tableau offered nice touch services such as shuttle to and from the hotels and discounts of their stuff.
- Offered a good brand of non-carbonated unsweet lime water in a can. Wish I could remember the name of it. It was weird to drink something flat from a can, but it grew on me in place a of black tea that I usually drink.
This is stuff I forgot to mention in the earlier posts or just plain didn’t know where to put it.
Mount Rainier from the Air by Patty Walsh.
Rainy Monday at the Fish Market by Patty Walsh. The rest of the week was clear and sunny.
Listening to Sir-Mix-A-Lot while staring upwards whilst eating a doughnut.
Looking down from the 10th floor in the Seattle Public Library. Gave me vertigo. The place is awesome on the inside, but just pain ugly outside.
Mount Rainier again. This time from Safe Co field. By Brian Welch.
Note: Next time, bring a decent camera.
Not sure where I snapped this. Decent visualization though.