I Like Statistics

I like a lot of things… like Tetris, Newspapers, BYU Football, Ultimate Frisbee, and Jimmy Eat World.

I also like statistics. A lot.

You probably already knew this, given the high number of stats related posts I’ve written (including the ones with infographics, internet statistics, mobile phone statistics, Dvorak typing graphs and images depicting the size of the universe).

By statistics, I’m not referring to the technical discipline. Sure, I had some good times in STAT 221, finding the standard deviation of data sets (if you’re hardcore, you do it by hand… none of this calculator business). But honestly, I prefer skipping the work and diving into the results of other people’s efforts instead. Given the right data, presented in the right way, I eat up their statistics like popcorn. Here are some of my favorite examples:

1. Friend Wheel

I’m usually way skeptical about facebook apps but I’ll be the first to admit that Friend Wheel is pretty cool. I like it because it’s simple: all your facebook friends are arranged into a wheel. Then, a line connects any people within that wheel that are friends. The result: a kaleidoscopic arrangement of lines that brings insights about the structure of your group of friends.

2. Stats of the Union

This is a free (as in $0.00) Ipad app that graphically shows you health related data for anyplace in the United States. You can see everything from population data to incidence of colon cancer by county. It’s quite revealing. Take a look at their video to get a taste of everything you can do with this app.

Here you can compare different search terms to see what terms are searched more often than others. It creates a line graph that turns out to be an indirect measure of popularity. Check out this comparison of four popular photo management services:

Flickr vs Picasa vs iphoto vs Smugmug

Playing around on Google trends can be a lot of fun. I recommend that you try other comparisons like myspace vs facebook, firefox vs internet explorer vs chrome, or BYU vs University of Utah (I especially like that one).

4. Gapminder

This website is basically Hans Rosling’s statistics playground. It has a huge interactive graph that lets you compare any two data sets, for all countries in the world, over the last several hundred years. Then you can press “play” and watch the graphs dance around as the years move by.

No attempt for me to describe it can do it justice. Just go check it out. If you can’t get enough of Hans and his amazing stats, then watch his slick documentary, “The Joy of Stats”.

5. Religion Stats on Wikipedia

If you research different religions on Wikipedia, you’ll soon realize that you can find some really interesting membership and geolocation statistics for many major religions, including atheism. Consider looking at these:

6. Information is Beautiful

This is a neat little site that has a lot of slick infographics. Like what? Like this:

You can have a lot of fun (and eat up a lot of time), just browsing through this and other infograpics available at the site.

6. Browser Statistics

W3 Browser Statistics

Does it really matter which web browser everybody uses. Probably not. But it’s kind of fun to see the ebb and flow of browsers as some sort of indicator for the popularity of the company that built it (Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc). My favorite source for this data is W3’s Browser Statistics (though there’s also a lot of info on Wikipedia as well).

7. Public Information

Last but not least is the wealth of public data collected by governments and independent researchers all over the world. Most of the time, they work their buns off to get this data and then they just throw this stuff up on the internet for the public (aka “me”) benefit. They’ve got everything from data sheets to reports to interactive maps. I love it. Here are the goods:

So you can call me crazy if you like but I love this kind of stuff. And don’t hold out on me! Tell me if I’m missing any great websites on this list. It’s all about sharing the wealth.