Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Show Me The Data

Max Sewicky over at Max Speaks. You Listen! offers a brief example of a share-the-data approach to dealing with the important time series in our lives that I would like to see more widely emulated.

He begins with a number-free sound bite statistical statement that "MORE PEOPLE ARE WORKING NOW THAN EVER BEFORE". He proceeds to analyze the underlying time series going back as far as 1939, and reports out a simplified and easily digestible time series table (covering the last 30 years) that represents his view of what seems most important. This step certainly adds to the reader's understanding of this single aspect of the U.S. employment scene and helps put the number-free sound bite into better persepctive.

So far this all pretty standard. What sets this particular blog entry apart from many others on the web these days is that Max wraps up his presentation with BOTH a pointer to his data source AND an easily downloadable, readily reusable copy of the working spreadsheet he used for analysis.

For the person interested in persuing this paticular employment metric any further, this sharing the data approach delivers a dramatic, order of magnitude time saving which could make all the difference in the world. Easy access to the data opens the door to further insights, conversation, discussion, checks and balances, and collaboration between interested parties.

This Change Over Time blog hopes that more and more analysts and commentators on the time series that most affect our lives will follow in Max Sewicky's footsteps and share their data in similar easily downloadable and readily reusable form.

P.S. Of course doing time series analysis on an important topic with just a single variable is severely sub-optimal on the face of it, but that is a topic for future blog entries.

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