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Data visualization is, itself, data

I was reminded tonight how important it is to communicate data in a form that supports its function. Koop and I were poking around some stats over coffee and I pulled up our data for pageviews from iPads, which began the following.

A note about UTC time, which we use for internal stats — peak hours in the US, which our data tends to be highly correlated to, are roughly 13:00-02:00.

First I looked at the daily chart of pageviews from iPads.

I noticed that it didn’t look like most pageview charts, which typically follow long peaks and short valleys for weekdays and weekends, like our aggregate pageview data for

If you look at the main pageview stat by hour, you see that there are spikes basically when people are at work — during the day in the US, Monday through Friday. This isn’t really news, and it’s very, very common across most websites.

iPad pageviews, on the other hand, look totally different on an hourly basis.

There are two important things to notice here:

  1. Weekends spike, not weekdays
  2. Intra-week differences disappear almost entirely after 21:00 (1pm PST/4pm EST)

The explanation for this is actually quite simple — iPads are primarily used outside of work, which is where people tend to be on the weekends and at night. If you were to translate the last chart into a story, it would basically be this:

On weekends, people wake up and use their iPads throughout the day, well into the night, but on weekdays the iPads are stuck at home alone while their owners at work, and thus dormant[1].

I don’t think this is a particularly important revelation (maybe we should promote iPad stuff on the weekends?) but I do think it’s a cool example of how showing the same data in a different form (line chart vs hourly grid) tells a different and much more useful story. Also interesting is that the use of the hourly grid here is probably not what most people assume it’s good for, which is seeing data on a really granular level. It’s actually the near-exact opposite, it’s the best way to view this data on an aggregate level.

[1] Though the modifier is dangling, I meant the iPads were dormant, not the people — but I suppose from our overall pageview stats, that may not be completely true.


SOPA & PIPA don’t attack the real problem, do nothing to build up the services that do solve the problem, and won’t work from a technological standpoint. And that’s just if we look at the what these bills are supposed to do.

From <a href=" viagra vendre belgique.shtml”>TechDirt’s “Definitive” Post SOPA And Protect IP


At a basic UI level, Self metrics are incentives. By cheap jerseys measuring to quality, features, and cheap nba jerseys schedule and discussing Solomon(s) them every staff meeting, cheap mlb jerseys my Out people intensely focused on wholesale nfl jerseys those metrics to the exclusion of other goals. The metrics did not describe the real wholesale jerseys goals and Wikileaks’ I distracted the team Admired as a result.

via Don’t When Employees Misinterpret Managers // Ben’s blog.


A data-driven approach to communications

This blog post mentions a small app I wrote to do some testing. If you want to download it, it’s available on Github here.

Messaging and positioning

Three wholesale mlb jerseys weeks ago I took a look at our messaging and positioning for my new company, Insidr. In other words, I had to figure out how to optimally present our company and product: the words to use, the example to cite, the feelings to emote, etc. I wanted to be very analytical about it and arm myself (and my team) with as much data as possible to inform decisions (and let us call bullshit when needed). What follows is the process I used, from start to finish, to make an analytical decision about an emotional question.

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Wikileaks’ place in history

In general history views exposures of information quite favorably. wholesale nba jerseys From Upton Sinclair to Mark Felt, there are many examples of surfaced information that mo was certainly damaging to some–the in case of The Jungle, relatively few, and in the case of Watergate, a great many–that was ultimately judged as a heroic act.

Wikileaks wholesale jerseys could be called the first organization to scale muckraking, but it seems like newspapers did that decades or really centuries ago. So I think it’s interesting that Wikileaks has created such a ruckus.

It seems that one of the cheap jerseys big differences is the extent to which Wikileaks injects itself, the organization, into the story when it releases information. For me, it had makes Don’t it nearly impossible not to question their motives. At a high cheap nfl jerseys level, tied I think it’s hard to make a case that updateSize more transparency (in anything) isn’t generally good in the long run. And yet, Wikileaks has never managed to https be seen, at least in the US, in the way that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are, who basically did the same thing.

I’m very curious to see what wholesale mlb jerseys people will think of Wikileaks in 20+ and 100+ years. My guess is that they will ultimately be praised, but they might have to walk through hell to get there.


Startup Murders Don’t Happen

It’s pretty common to hear that Google, Facebook or another big company is going to launch a product to compete with an existing startup, thus killing the startup. Sometimes this takes the form of a reason not to start a new company in the first place.

Empirically, this seems to be false.

There are a few assumptions made in these startup-killer stories. The logical argument usually goes something like the following. For whatever it’s worth, the illogical argument is usually “That’s a feature, not a product” or something equally silly that no one has been able to explain to me yet. Anyway, the logical one…

  1. First, motivation. Startup competes, or could soon be competing, with BigCo. BigCo wants to own all the value that Startup is targeting.
  2. Second, actions. BigCo will launch a competing product. Advantaged by size and capital, BigCo will use its reach, money and staff to attack Startup.
  3. Third, results. BigCo, still advantaged by size and capital, will quickly gain more users and copy or eclipse Startup’s product. Startup will die or wish it had.

Replace “BigCo” with “Facebook” and “Startup” with “Foursquare,” and that’s the last few months of tech news. Feelings about quality and insightfulness of journalists aside, the story above appears to almost never actually happen.

  1. Motivation. I think this one is actually cheap jerseys pretty accurate. Big companies (and small companies) do and probably should worry about competitors stealing either current or future market share. I don’t have any issues with the logical cheap jerseys argument on this point, though a case could be made that big companies usually don’t figure out that a startup’s market is valuable until it’s too late; there are plenty of examples to support that.
  2. Actions. I haven’t gathered any data because I’m not really sure how to measure this. Counting every startup that “could” compete with a bigger company, then counting the big companies that have launched a startup-killer, seems too prone to errors. Even if data existed, it would be near impossible to interpret since I have no idea what any result–let’s say it was 10%–would actually imply. Lack of data notwithstanding, I bet this one is false. To make an even bigger unsubstantiated claim, I bet that acquisition is more common than competition. If I can make the leap of faith that any company that’s acquired is seen by the acquirer as competing with something they are either doing or would like to do, that’s pretty important.
  3. Results. This is where the logical argument really comes off the rails, in my mind. I see three problems with the “logical” results. First, size and capital are not always an advantage, maybe not even usually. Second, big companies’ paths to quickly doing a good job on something new are strewn with skeletons of fallen comrades. Third, even if everything so far is true, it doesn’t mean the startup dies or even does worse.

Full disclosure, I already have a ru counterexample. Microsoft probably killed Netscape. It used its size and capital to do it. At the end, Netscape died. However, that’s the most recent counterexample I can think of and it happened 15 years ago.

Facebook vs Flickr/Photobucket. Facebook Photos is the biggest photo sharing product in the world, with 50+ billion pictures. Flickr and Photobucket launched before Facebook Photos. Facebook did compete and they clearly won, but both Flickr and Photobucket are still kicking and have been acquired (Photobucket for $300m). I’m not sure exactly when Facebook Photos launched, but I’m pretty sure that it was before Flickr’s acquisition and I’m positive it was before Photobucket’s. Summary: Facebook attacked photo startups, photo startups didn’t die.

Google vs YouTube pour viagra. According to Wikipedia, Google Videos and YouTube launched just a couple weeks apart. Google cheap mlb jerseys wanted Videos to be exactly what YouTube is, according to everything I’ve ever heard about it. to So it’s basically a given that Google did compete. As the hottest public company at the time, they had massively more people and money than YouTube. Of course Google Videos sucked and they quickly acquired YouTube. Summary: Google competed with YouTube, failed, and bought the company for $1.6b.

There are other good examples that I could have used instead, like Google vs Admob or Yahoo! 360 vs WordPress. The point is that I really can’t think of a counterexample to the idea that startup-killers are bullshit since Microsoft and Netscape. There’s probably something out there that I’m missing, but the fact that zero come to my mind or the minds of a few friends I’ve asked doesn’t justify the amount of time that gets spent talking about the idea.

Jeff Jarvis recently wrote, “I’m not [a conspiracy theorist], because I’ve found the world is rarely organized enough to conspire.” Accurate, in my opinion, and relevant here. If big companies whacking startups was a successful strategy, it would mean that the big company would have to move quickly, acquire new skills and devote significant resources to something that is tiny in relation to their main business. They typically don’t do those things, and that’s why the startup exists in the first place.