Shoutout to Taming Data Readers/Happy Halloween

I would like to wish each and every one of you a safe and Happy Halloween. Thank you for reading this blog. As part of my “thank you”, I’ve included Greg Fellin’s video “Happy Halloween“, which features “The Monster Mash” song. I’ve also added an infographic with some interesting facts about Halloween. (You can find the sources of the Halloween facts listed at the bottom of the infographic.)


For a larger image of the infographic, please click on the image. This will take you to a new page; click on the small image of the infographic again to view the very large image.

Facts About Halloween

[Halloween infographic via: HalloweenExpress.]

War Data: Nuclear Explosions 1945-1998

How would you visualize over 2000 nuclear explosions since 1945?

Artist Isao Hashimoto created a video time-lapse that shows the 2053 nuclear tests and explosions between 1945-1998. North Korea’s two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 are not included in the time lapse. If you’d like to view an interactive map of nuclear testing that provides more data than the animation below, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has created this interactive map of nuclear testing worldwide.

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War Data: Willingness to Fight

How willing would you be to fight in a war? Might your willingness to fight be based on which country you call home?

The answer to the second question is, “yes”.

Citizens of superpowers and war torn nations have little interest in fighting a war. However, some citizens of war torn countries are quite happy to engage in war. To find out which citizens of which countries are and are not willing to engage in war, please watch the short video below.

You may also view a few graphics of the war data used in the video above.

The data reflects the average view of national populations, not just their governments, and is based on subjective analysis by the Economist Intelligence Unit via Vision of Humanity (

How willing are you to go to war? Were you surprised by any of the information presented in the animation?

This post is one of a series on war data.

ICPSR Releases “Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans”

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has released their Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans.

On the web site ICPSR writes this about these guidelines:

Many federal funding agencies, including NIH and most recently NSF, are requiring that grant applications contain data management plans for projects involving data collection. To support researchers in meeting this requirement, ICPSR is providing guidance on creating such plans.

The guidelines include:

  • A List of Federal Agency Policies on Data Management and Sharing
  • Elements of a Data Management Plan
  • Data Management Plan Resources and Examples
  • Other Data Management Plan Examples
  • Depositing Data with ICPSR for Long-term Data Management
  • List of Links Related to Data Management and Data Sharing
  • A Guide to Preparing Data

The guidelines contain a lot of really great information on how to effectively manage data; the information in the ICPSR guidelines is not just relevant to Social Science data managers, but to all data managers.

War Data: the Hidden Cost ($$$) of War

Can you estimate the true cost of war? What variables do you use? Is the cost of war only the salaries of the troops and the equipment they use? Should the cost estimates include lifetime medical care for injured troops? What about rebuilding the nation with which you are at war (assuming you win)? Do you include that as a cost?

I am continuing with this week’s theme of war data. In the animated infographic below, GOOD examines the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for United States taxpayers. Donald Rumsfeld initially stated that the war would cost $60 million dollars. The real cost will be in the trillions, according to the data presented in this video below, which was taken from research by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilme.

GOOD used data from “Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilme’s exhaustedly researched book, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict” to make this animation. Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank Economist. Blimes is a full-time faculty member at Harvard University and is considered “considered one of the leading experts in US budgeting and public finance”. I will, therefore, assume that the facts and figures cited in this animation are backed up with real data and solid research.

As you watched the video, did the use of any particular data or information stand out to you? If you were creating this video, is there data or information you would have left out in your cost estimate? Is there data or information you would have included that the creators of this infographic did not?

War Data: Visualization of Afghanistan Hotspots Using Wikileaks Data

How would you take a data set released by Wikileaks and visualize it to see activity in Afghanistan over time? As part of this week’s theme of war data, I present a visualization based on leaked war data.

Mike Dewar, Drew Conway, John Myles White, and Harlan Harris used R code (the scripts, etc., are available on github) to generate the animation below from the Wikileaks Afghanistan War Logs.

(Note: You may access overview data via The Guardian’s DataBlog, whose datajournalists provided their own analyses of the leaked data.)

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War Data: a Short Profile of WikiLeaks

What happens when your data is leaked online? What happens when that data contradicts the official reports of a powerful government? What happens if that data is about a war, and the war is currently being fought?

Welcome to Wikileaks — an online site used by journalists and whistleblowers that provides public access to very private government, military, and corporate documents via an ISP in Sweden. WikiLeaks has no official headquarters, five full-time staff, about 800 occasional contributors, keeps no records, and uses military grade encryption to protect its sources and files.

Patrick Clair profiles Wikileaks in the video infographic below. You may read more about the organization on their web site.

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Twitter Mood Predicts the Stock Market

The zeitgeist on Twitter predicts stock market behavior by several days, according to research by Johan Bollen, Huina Mao, and Xiao-Jun Zeng. They examined whether or not “measurements of collective mood states derived from large-scale Twitter feeds are correlated to the value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIJA) over time”.

The short answer is, “yes” (with some limitations, as stated in their paper about this research).

CNBC interviewed Dr. Bollen about the team’s research results in this interview below.

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The Internet of Things and a System of Systems

We are drowning in a sea of data. There are more things on the Internet than there are people; currently about 1 billion people use the Internet.

We are learning to take data, create information, gain knowledge, and achieve wisdom. We are able to do this by using The Internet of Things to create a System of Systems. Or, so sayeth IBM’s marketing department.

This System of Systems, however, is not the Science Fiction idea that the computers are running the world — it is a system in which humans are an elemental part of it all. The system itself is unpredictable, as one change in one part of it will affect changes downstream.
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