Tag Archives: excel

Data Laziness

Ridership on the New York City subways declined last year because, well, they’re not sure, really:

The [Metropolitan Transit] authority’s acting chairman, Fernando Ferrer, said on Thursday that several factors could be contributing to the decline: rising subway delays, the popularity of Uber and other apps, and weekend maintenance work that disrupts service.

“It may be all of the above,” Mr. Ferrer told reporters after an authority board meeting. “I’m very glad that our ridership is at historic highs. If it declines a little bit — and I’ve seen those numbers, and it’s a little bit — there is no reason for alarm.”

You want “reason for alarm?”  I’ll give you reason for alarm: the MTA’s chairman can’t be bothered to run a simple Excel spreadsheet.  Let’s call this “data laziness” and show you how easy it would be to get a more definitive answer.

Actually, Excel is a much more useful tool here

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Oops, Your Code is Showing (a PSA)

My fellow Swarthmore alumnus Simon St. Laurent introduced me to the concept that Excel is really a programming language rather than a simple spreadsheet tool.  Not only do I agree with this sentiment, but I also think it has a profound impact on how we use data in presentations.

In short, if Excel is a programming language, tables are code and thus should only appear in presentations when absolutely necessary.

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