Thursday 17th Jul 2014

The Revised NBA Draft

The NBA draft is the equivalent of Christmas for most NBA fans (except Cleveland but I will come to that). Previously for the last couple of decades, David Stern (playing the role of Santa) rocks up to the podium (read Christmas tree) and tells you which teenager you will be cheering on for the next decade.

This year Adam Silver, the new NBA Santa, will read out the names of the players in which your sporting hopes will rest. If you have been good (or your team has an awesome GM) then you will land a star player that will guide your team to championship, after championship (thanks Timmy!). If you are Cleveland or Portland then you draft a player that will leave you for a more desirable location or have fundamental health issues.

So how much does it matter if you pick first, second or sixtieth? Bill Simmons, king of Sports Satire, this week published an article looking at which order the players from the last couple of decades would those players go.

Here's the article for those who want to have a read -

Well as I was reading, I thought of only one thing - slope chart!

I hope you enjoy the new storyboarding feature in Tableau as I walk you through the last six years of the NBA draft showing there is still hope for all.

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Wednesday 14th May 2014

Quantified Self

I have the joy of living in London. This includes many amazing things: the history, the architecture, the museums, the beer but there is one thing that blights the London experience for me - the Tube. That's right the London Underground is my pet hate. Don't get me wrong it's a brilliant transport system - people make 24 million journeys on it every day ( But that is the issue for a 6' 3" guy, I just don't fit in very well. So for a quantified self project I wanted to not just help myself solve this, but create something that will help others. So I came up with... The London Runderground. Every year about 15 million international tourists come to London and they move round primarily on the tube. But they have no other option if they want to visit the sights, right? No Wrong! Why not run between the attractions? To prove the benefits I have tried to be as fair as possible. I didn't train for the runs, I didn't do it on a nice cool day (it was a stifling London day), I just rocked up in a pair of trainers and my iPhone (to use and ran. I have just used the website to calculate the tube journeys but these don't take in to account: The time to get from the attraction to the station The time to get down to the platform once at the station (there are a lot of escalators) Delays Line closures Here are my results - and trust me it is a lot nicer than riding the tube for nine journeys (and cheaper!!). Plus, I made a couple of journeys faster. Oh and the biggest benefit is I could enjoy my fish and chips in the evening as I had already worn off the "treat".

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Monday 17th Mar 2014

Tableau's Sports Viz Contest - the Interactive Shot Chart

So Tableau have thrown down the gauntlet and it's the first data viz competition to see who gets to complete in the Iron Viz championship at the Customer Conference. I had the pleasure of watching the competition last year and it was great. Seeing three great visualisers tackle the same data set in so many different ways made me feel there is no right way - it's all about the experimentation to see what stories you can find.

This year's first challenge is to create a sports based visualisation. For me there was only every going to be one thing I was going to do and it was to create an interactive basketball shot chart. For a long time now, I have admired and followed the work of Kirk Goldsberry.

Kirk's chart are simply beautiful, fun and clear. I really enjoy the comic book (graphic novel??) styling. But, I want a little more...

I want to understand: When the shot is happening? Who made the pass? What was the flow of the game at the time?

But linking the final pass to the shot tells an even more interesting story - click on the second tab to see how path analysis helps with this. Just check out Spurs dominance on the defence's right hand side after failing from the left before hand.

Therefore, I have created this as my entry in the Iron Viz competition. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

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Thursday 13th Mar 2014

It's Tableau Sports Viz month

Anyone who knows me, knows I am basketball obsessed!

I recently realised that I often form ideas when watching games. Who is the best 3 point shooting team? Who scores well from the three point line, but fails miserably as a foul shooter?

A while ago I created this for the 2011-2012 season (and will update shortly) but I have been watching games recently and haven't had my laptop close-by. So I'm publishing this to the blog so it is available whenever I get in to a debate about how great Kawhi Leonard is, I can prove it!

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Wednesday 9th Jul 2014

Tableau on Tour - Day Two

Tim Harford - (Mis)Information is Beautiful keynote

- If you are a data visualisation guru you will have come across the Florence Nightingale story of visualisation many times. An innovative visualiser but she was still arguing a point and hence she used a coxcomb diagram.

- Florence had the dubious honour of creating one of the first infographics. Tim did point out she saved '000s of people but still... Have a read of - you'll thank Tim for pointing it out.

- Misinformation is an issue in infographics. Height used for icons, forgets to work out the area implications.

- Here is the link to Tim's reference to Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A quick reference as to why info graphics have to be treated with care.

- Tim showed the example of the New York subway lines inequality line. Here is the London equivalent for house prices -

- Tim played Debtris by Information is Beautiful - Debtris (UK version) - YouTube. He then pulls apart some of the "costs" referenced by McCandless. Not coming apples with apples. Visualisation is becoming easy but... "You don't have to think, but I recommend it. Pro tip"

- Tim highlights it's not enough to be beautiful, it has to be sound work. He understand when someone 'smooth talks' us without substance. Not everyone has developed the ability to see the gaps being presented.

- Dazzle camouflage in military shipping is a similar analogy to info graphics.

- Be careful of:
1. People that lie with data
2. People who haven't taken care of how the are visualising
3. People who are not careful of the metrics they use

Matt Francis - Once Upon a Tableau - The How and Why of Story

- 220 slides (seriously!) of hilarity!

- Tableau Public is a great learning resource - download something that makes you go woah and you can download it to learn how it was done.

- Stories are important because they are: more Memorable, Impactful and Relatable

- Matt talks about Sequential Art - a way to transmit human experience so why not use Sequential Data Visualisation

- Data viz should be unbiased and neutral (I'd say can it be?). Data stories lead a reader in a certain direction. You are influencing through a guided tour

- You need to:
1. Consider your plot - plan out what you are going to do
2. Consider your audience - harks back to Paul Banoub's idea of present to Homer as well as Lisa Simpson

- Matt went through his thinking on creating his:
1. Sunspots visualisation -
2. The Greatest F1 driver -
3. Malaria - the global problem -

- "Hit people with the numbers and make it relatable" create an emotional impact, like the use of the school bus in the Malaria viz

- Matt's do's and don'ts:
1. Don't use it for everything. Single dashboards are effective and also multiple dashboards but question whether it is the right choice
2. Don't waste space - "each story point must earn it's place"
3. Do share the right story point - the 'Share' URL you have on your screen is for the point you are on when you click share.

The Final Keynote - Kenneth Cukier (data editor at the Economist)
- is an accessible reference for some of Kenneth's team reference

- Kenneth uses the example of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that is made up (like a lot of the financial indices) are a large number of measures. Changes to all underlying factors can now be visualised in seconds.

- "n=all" before you used to have to sample, now you can use all of the data. Data visualisation allows you to see all of the data and the trends.

- Information growth in digital sources is exponential and it's growth is unlikely to change. Even with this data growth, there is a need to show all of it.

- The use of different visualisation has allowed information never seen as data, suddenly be visualised and insight taken from it.

- By disaggregating data, you can find new uses and ways to look at this information. For example, employment data like this:

- New techniques are still required to tell different and more interesting stories. You have to explore the data without conceived ideas about what you are going to find. Remove Preconceived Notions! Observe first, answer afterwards.

- Kenneth still battles to get the visualisation in to the magazine that depicts the data best vs. what is easily accessible. Has "failed" multiple times with 'innovative' visualisations but hits home runs that shows you need to keep pushing the boundaries.

- The world cup has been a testbed for the media's large dataset visualisations (social media etc)

- Need to be aware of access, ethics, privacy, ownership, "data-ism" (a new alchemy that needs to be treated with care and be cautious). Need to remember the humanity behind the data. off to the London Tableau User Group. Great conference and thank you to all those who made it a special couple of days.