Mapping America

A recent project of The New York Times allows to ‘browse local data from the Census Bureau‘s American Community Survey, based on samples from 2005 to 2009’. It’s a great visual and interactive application designed by By MATTHEW BLOCH, SHAN CARTER and ALAN McLEAN.

Several topics and maps are available

and provide insights down to cities and blocks

‘Because these figures are based on samples, they are subject to a margin of error, particularly in places with a low population, and are best regarded as estimates.’

US Census Budget: House Bill Would Gut Economic Monitoring, Endanger GDP And Other Stats


‘WASHINGTON — If you think Congress doesn’t understand the economy now, wait till you see what a key House panel wants to do to the people who help figure it out.
Lawmakers are taking on the budget for the Census Bureau, pushing cuts that could leave economists and businesses in the dark about key economic information even as they are trying to map a path through a treacherous, uncertain economy.
The House Appropriations Committee is set to put the final touches on a funding bill Wednesday that proposes to slash the government’s data collection arm by 25 percent — a cut that economists and statistics experts say could end up costing…’ more -> Census Budget: House Bill Would Gut Economic Monitoring, Endanger GDP And Other Stats.

Journalism in the Age of Data

Journalism in the Age of Data from Geoff McGhee on Vimeo.

Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?

Watch the full version with annotations and links at

Produced during a 2009-2010 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.

Historical Statistics

From New York Times, Monday, September 6, 2010

Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog

Some readers have asked where I get the numbers that go into posts like this. The answer is the Millennial Edition of Historical Statistics of the United States. It’s a spectacular source. The bad news is that it’s paywalled. But if you’re at a university, or have access some other way — I guess there’s a print edition too, which libraries might have — it’s great.

By the way, for more contemporary stuff I rely heavily on Eurostat and the IMF WEO database, both free, and the OECD, some free, some not.

MIT-World: Visual Overviews for Cultural Heritage

From: Visual Overviews for Cultural Heritage: Interactive Exploration for Scholars in the Humanities, Arts, and Beyond

Ben Shneiderman

May 20, 2010
Running Time: 1:05:52

About the Lecture

A focus on designing technologies that allow the “visualization of things not visible” has been at the center of Ben Shneiderman’s work over the past two decades. He advocates the discovery of temporal patterns, relationships and clusters via an empowering user experience which enables discovery at a customizable pace and depth.

Shneiderman makes a clear distinction between high-resolution presentation (ala Edward Tufte) anddiscovery, which he defines as “the dynamics of interaction.” Noting that different patterns will be interesting to different people, he suggests that the capacity to quickly test out a viewpoint, to ask a large number of questions in a short amount of time…is an “enriching gift.”


Lost in the print world of old ?

OECD’s Statistics Newsletter of Juy 2010 brings a short article about On-line Data Dissemination Practices for Government and International Statistics.
San Cannon & Marc Rodriguez, Division of Research and Statistics,  of the Federal Reserve Board present the findings of their survey made in January 2010. They visited nearly 450 websites of  U.S. government agencies, national statistical organizations, central banks, and international institutions.
For each website visited, they looked for answers to 5 questions:
  1. Graphics: Any? Static or interactive? Interesting features (maps, etc)?
  2. Data presentation: HTML or spreadsheets for data tables or are there other formats?
  3. Download functionality: Predefined or customizable? Applications?
  4. Plain language» or descriptive sites to explain their statistics?
  5. Licensing info: Terms of use? License or copyright notice? Pricing?

Some of their findings:


‘The majority of sites that publish official statistics do not incorporate any graphical representation into their websites.’

Data Presentation

‘..  while HTML was the most popular format, PDFs were more prevalent than spreadsheets. We take this as evidence that many institutions have operations and attitudes that are still very much centred on the presentation of data on the printed page. ‘

‘It is interesting to note that PC-Axis is only used in the world of official statistics outside the United States: 10% of the NSO websites offer data in that format but not one U.S. agency does. … PC-Axis would seem to be an effective way for statistical agencies from different countries to pool their resources.’

Download Functionality

‘Again, it seems clear that institutions tend to present a defined set of information rather than allowing users to define their own.’


‘From this, admittedly cursory examination of the dissemination practices of providers of international statistics, it seems that the main approach still undertaken by the majority of statistical disseminators is to electronically replicate the print world of old. Many are taking baby steps, or in some cases giant leaps, toward the brave new world of Web 2.0 but they are still solidly in the minority.’

The complete article in The Statistics Newsletter.