Naked Data
Issue #294 || Dodgy Delta Edition || 2021-11-29
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Sitting at the feet of Zen Master Bostock

“This isn’t intended to be too comprehensive or serious — just a handful of observations as I look ahead to the next ten years,” opines Mike Bostock, the creator of unarguably the most important data visualisation graphics library on the occasion of its tenth birthday. He then proceeds to elucidate on all things data viz, community and library development, with every truth-bomb paragraph prying your mind open to a greater universe.

He talks about teaching, about community building, and the different demands of visualising for oneself (exploratory) or an audience (explanatory). He talks about code quality and how 10% of the code causes 90% of the bugs. He talks about struggling with criticism levelled against him on the internet, and how you need a support group to get you through. Just like the tools he creates, his words are well worth the time.

And apparently he’s human after all – he hates public speaking.

Read Mike’s missive here…

# Don't Miss

A rare misstep from NYT’s visualisation team – too many dots

The New York Times wanted to mark the terrible toll of half-a-million American deaths to Covid-19 with a strong graphic. Its previous cover at the 100,000-mark, a cover with 1,000 names on the cover.

At the time of the 100,000 death-mark, Simone Landon, assistant editor of the New York Times Graphics desk, said: “Putting 100,000 dots or stick figures on a page doesn’t really tell you very much about who these people were, the lives that they lived, what it means for us as a country.”

So guess what NYT went and did?
Screenshot 2021-02-26 at 09.35.38
Canadian founder of data viz company Voilà, Francis Gagnon, sums it up perfectly in this excellent thought piece, 500,000 dots is too many: “The NY Times introduces the graphic this way: ‘It began with one dot. Then it grew to nearly half a million.' The reality is more that it began with one person and it grew to half a million dots.” (JNY)

Corruption made easy

Nigerian open data watchdog BudgIT has taken to Twitter to explain just how corruption in the Niger Delta talks place, with fun infographics in a thread that shows how you too can walk away with a trillion Naira or so if you are suitably well connected. Highlights include the contract awarded 55 times over. Check it out here. (AO)

Clever cops call on copyright

The Other EFF has a fascinating piece explaining how some California cops are preventing people from livestreaming their, um, honest interactions with the thin blue line. It’s highlighted a case in which a police officer spotted an activist turning on their camera, and responded with a blast of music – this would have caused Instagram’s copyright filter to power up and shut the stream down. We just wonder if Beverley Hills PD keeps its public performance licences up to date. (AO)

Google’s war against ethics in AI continues

After sacking the prominent AI ethicist Timnit Gebru for doing her job, Google decided that it’s still not free from pesky ethics holding it responsibility for its actions. It’s now fired another ethics researcher, Margaret Mitchell, claiming that she send electronic documents outside of the company. Perhaps its slogan should soon change from “Do No Evil” to “Don’t Be Watched Doing Evil”. (JNY)

# Nerds

The A-Z of A to Z

Climate scientist Neil Kaye seems to produce a prodigious number of data visualisations over on the Twitters, but his “Frequency of letters in English words and where they occur in the word” really caught my eye. Brilliant. (And very useful for crossword puzzles.) (JNY)

Learning to crawl

Yes, it’s a listicle and yes, the first item in the list may not be terribly useful to all (but it has a hell of a novelty value – want to download the entire internet? Get it from Common Crawl). But forgive us all the same for linking out to KD Nuggets’ top tools for web scraping – invaluable for those times you need to snarf up a site. (AO)

# Finally

Independent Media, where one plus one equals whatever you need it to

I know it’s hard to fault The Great Doctor Iqbal Survé, Personal Physician to Nelson Mandela, Saviour of South Africa’s Media, Owner of Independent Media, Master of Shipping Fleets, Leader of Technology, Maven of the Bourse, and All-Round-Good-Guy. I know how awesome he is because his own publications tell me so. He is so great, that if you happen to misspell his name, he warrants a front-page, top spot correction.
Note to subs: Do not spell it “Ickyballs”

To hammer home how awesome his publications are, cast your eye upon the readership stats, presented in this infographic.
A truly bizarre bar chart completely out of whack
We can see that there is a good balance between young and old readers, where 11*2=51.
There are many more (20%) black readers than the 40% white readers.
And here we can see that, um, yeah, well you can see for yourself.
There’s another graphic The Independent failed to include, made by those White Monopoly Capital anti-revolutionaries over at Code for Africa, based on ABC figures for newspaper circulations.
Independent Newspapers in red, visually and metaphorically.

Who the hell is Jason Norwood-Young?

Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery, Jason was one of the first South Africans to really grasp the importance of data in the newsroom and has remained one step ahead of the trends in the field all the way. Even Naked Data was conceived before email newsletters were cool again. But what does that tell you about the measure of the man? Nothing, that's what. He hides the superman CV behind a truly mild-mannered and overly modest persona and is best described as "one of the nicest guys in the business". When he's angry, it is righteously so, and his anger always wears velvet mittens. The true signs of his genius include the ability to create multilingual puns on demand (witness the alternative Naked Data strap "Putting the heita in to data") and the fact that he offered me a job. (AO)

Who the hell is Adam Oxford?

Adam combines the best features of his Britishness — polite, sincere, witty, and pasty-white — with the best of South Africanness — enthusiastic, involved, socially conscious, underpaid and overly committed. He wears an incredible amount of hats , including the driving force behind Hacks/Hackers Jo’burg; an "innovation agent" with access-to-justice accelerator HiiL; an editor; a technology journalist; a data journalist; and a budding machine learning and AI expert. His latest gig with Naked Data is a natural progression for a gent that brings a sense of excited purpose to all of his myriad projects. (JNY)

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