January 13, 2011

Analysis of My First Mozilla Open Data Visualization Competition Entries

The First Mozilla Open Data Visualization Competition results are out. I had submitted 3 entries [one] [two] [three] for this competition and as I had imagined, my entry did not win any nor did it get any mention (I would have been surprised if it had got any!).

I kind of expected this, and realized it during the last few weeks before the winners were to be announced. I reviewed my submissions and found that I had not done justice to my analysis and there were many open questions; or avenues that could be bettered.

Self-Analysis and Comments:
1. As soon as i saw the data I jumped on it. I loaded the sample data into sqlite3 tables and started firing queries and started generating the charts. THIS was a BIG mistake, I should have taken some more time to read the structure of the data and probably cleanse it, and normalize the dataset.
I think i was overjoyed by seeing a 'real' dataset and how i could 'directly' contribute to Firefox in this analysis. The adrenaline rush made me do this blunder.
2. I also spent quiet sometime googling the already submitted entries so that mine was different from others. Though, this helps sometimes, i think it pressurizes one more and narrows down the vision. Treating the data holistically and deriving all possible analysis, or choosing a subset of the data and then analysing it should have been the way to go.
3. I would like to again state the fact that i did not normalize the data - this was the crucial step.
4. I should have spent a weekend on developing a dashboard or webpage with which people could play around. The excuse of time prevented me from doing this.
5. Verbiage - charts/images are good, but it is always nice to include some verbiage along with it when you do not provide a dashboard kind of an interface.
6. Lack of any statistical analysis - most of the analysis that I have done are pure SQL query based manipulations. I am working on this front and learning more statistical analysis techniques, which will help me in the longer run.
7. Some of mycharts were pure junk and did not convey the right message!
8. I should have used better charting libraries - those that have better presentation and are pleasant to the eyes. In the adrenaline rush, i overlooked this aspect.I thought of moving the charts to protovis, but i was too lazy once i submitted my entries(and also i got pulled into other visualizations).

Having understood (and realized) the mistakes that i did, and also the loads of learning that happened during and after the contest has helped me a lot; and am better prepared for the next visualization/data-analysis challenge. This self analysis did help me a lot.

Btw... Mozilla guys are giving away free Tshirts for all participants :)
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