Book Review: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

If you’re at all interested in economics, data science, or even just popular books, it’s a good bet that you’ve heard of the 2005 New York Times bestseller, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Eight years might seem to be a long shelf life for a book about statistics, particularly one dealing with current events, but as one of the first books to push economics and data science into popular consciousness, we think it’s definitely worth taking a second look.

Joel Selanikio: The Surprising Seeds of a Big-Data Revolution in Healthcare

Joel Selanikio’s TED Talk explores health care data collection methods from the 1990s to current day. His cloud-based software program, Magpi, took data collection from the traditional hand-held Palm Pilot to a user-friendly website interface that could push to mobile phones. This innovation compressed a process that had previously taken two years to one that now takes five minutes.

Data Digest: Week of 9/30

Last week in data: IBM uses open-source modeling to predict malaria outbreaks, scientists take responsibility for creating a data code of ethics, fantasy football provides the perfect training ground for data science startups, data mining algorithms may soon be able to summarize key points of your emails, and farmers embrace rainfall and soil data when planning for next season’s yields.

Skeptical Science: Viewing Data with a Critical Eye

When James Cattermole was asked to get a cholesterol test for his 15-month-old in order to obtain insurance, he wanted to know why. The answer lay in the data. Albert Einstein said it best: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Cattermole’s experience is the perfect example of missing the forest for the (Big Data) trees.

Jer Thorp: Make Data More Human

In his 2011 TED Talk, Jer Thorp walks us through his software-based art, which formed the basis for the interconnected order of victims’ names on the 9/11 memorial in NYC. Working with the company that built the memorial, he created an algorithm that could honor victims’ relationships through “adjacency requests.” Those requests represented the real life networks that made up the victims’ lives and are now embodied in the memorial.

Data Digest: Week of 9/23

Last week in data: data science makes a difference in the lives of pets AND premature babies, Bigfoot is tracked with data visualization, and Google refreshes evergreen content to bring you the most comprehensive answers to your queries.