Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stats and More Stats

For the past few years, I've had fun downloading and browsing through the Statistical Abstract of the United States, published annually by the Census Bureau. This week I finally got around to downloading the 2009 edition (published in October), which is 30 sections and 6 appendices full of all sorts of goodies, like:

—There were 240,800 blepharoplasties performed in 2007 (mine, to repair a ptosis, isn't included there, since it was in 2008, so I supposed it'll be included in next year's abstract.

—The likelihood of a 3- to 5-year-old to visit a library is greater when the mother holds a baccalaureate (52%) or graduate (60%) degree (though nothing about the father's education, unfortunately).

—More 18- to 24-year-olds play sports (49.4%) than garden (20.7%), but—not too surprisingly—more 55- to 64-year-olds garden (56.6%) than play sports (16%).

You never know what weird and interesting little tidbits you'll find.

And then a bit later, I came across the 2008 Feltron Report, which is the past year's life of a graphic designer named Nicholas Felton, distilled into graphs and maps. When I first looked through it, I wondered what on earth it would be like to keep track of that much data in order to produce such a report.

But it turns out that Felton and another designer, Ryan Case, have created a website called Datum (still in private beta) for people to collect and report similar data about their own lives. It's about as ferociously geeky an idea as I've seen in a long time, but looks like it could be really interesting.

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