Review: Does Your Zip Code Determine What You Buy?

Today I found a blog from The Wall Street Journal about how the zip code that you live in could dictate who you are.  Mapping behemoth ESRI mashed Census data along with marketing data from GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence and tries to predict what you will buy according to the zip code you live in.

The mapping piece is beautiful, the map moves smoothly and the graphics are top notch. The descriptions of the socio-economic levels are stereotypical and questionable.

I did some spot checking around my area  in South Jersey to see how the data compares to my own local knowledge.  I gave to say that in the zip code that I live in ESRI did get the fact that there are a lot of apartment dwellers in my hometown correct.  What they did not get right was the fact that a lot of these apartment dwellers are not millennials, instead they are middle class families. Looking at the Census data can tell you that.

I also found the categories in the “Top Tapestry Segments” incredibly insensitive and stereotypical.

Case in point: Camden City Zip Code 08110

This area in Camden is broken down into:

36% American Dreamers: Basically foreign born married couples and older people

30% Parks and Rec: People who live in older more established communities

18% Urban Villages: Recent immigrants who do not speak fluent English

The Urban Village description is the one I find most offensive.  “Shopping for trendy clothes for the whole family is important so we can be fashionable”.  Why is this connected to the urban poor?  Why play up to stereotypes? I think that this map has some really good uses but I think that it delivers its message poorly.

Check out the map here and feel free to leave your comments.

Estimating The Boundaries Of College Football Fandom. NY Times Article.

The NY Times published an article that uses Facebook “likes” by zip code to map out college football loyalty.  It’s interesting to see how the mapped data shows whole states where one college dominates while some states are carved up into niches.  Check out what team your neighbors are rooting for.

The Best American Wall Map Ever Made?

An Oregon cartographer by the name of David Imus spent 6,000 hours to create an absolutely brilliant wall map of the US. He places labels in ways that are useful and easy to read (no algorithms used). Imus captured important bits of info that are generally ignored like ferry routes and his attention to detail is amazing. I’m hoping to be able to purchase one in the future.

Read Slate’s article on the map here.

Where We Came From and Where We are Going.

The NY times recently released an article looking at how Census data gives us insight into migrations patterns in the US. For each state you see the following information: where people from that home state have moved to and where they have moved from (by decade starting with the 1990 census and ending with the 2012 American Community Survey).  Within each of these migration patterns the data highlights what specific parts of the country people are coming from/leaving to.  For example, Florida’s data illustrates that in 1900 65% of Floridians were born in the state compared to just 36% in 2012.  The majority of the new migrants came from NY and other Northeastern states.   The out migration data shows that the majority of Florida residents have moved to other parts of the state, with other states in the South being the second destination.

The NY times did a great job visualizing the data into colored streams that are easy to understand.  The newspaper typically does a great job taking complex data and reformatting it for easy digestion.

Here’s  a link to the article:

Repost: How to write a business plan in one week.

This afternoon I came across this post from the blog “The Daily Positive”. The author is a speaker and entrepreneur who blogs about social media, positivity and business. I thought that this post on “Writing a Business Plan in a Week” was informative and concise. He shares a data visualization from the Washington State University that I plan on sharing when I am out teaching about data and business plans.

GIS Resources: GIS Lounge and Q-GIS

Recently a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page a link to a free course on QGIS, a free open-sourced GIS software package.  I was so excited to see this as I have been really interested in this software but haven’t been able to find a tutorial for it.  I tried to find some stuff on YouTube there was nothing there that would help out a new user.  This course is being offered by Canvas By Instructure, a start-up founded in 2008  that colleges and universities use to offer online classes.  I signed up for the Q-GIS course which is at your own pace.  I liked this idea because it’s hard for me to juggle assignments with all that i have going on in my everyday life.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes.  For more info go to GIS Lounge a really cool site that keeps GIS users up-to-date on everything going on in the GIS world.

Coming Soon: Review of Tableau Public version 8.2

One of the things that I have been meaning to work is visualizing data for this blog. I am a visual person and I find it easier to look at a graph or map than stare at a report. Luckily, there are a lot of sites that cater to the data visualization crowd. The one that I plan on testing is called Tableau Public (the free one) version is 8.2.  Tableau is a data visualization software that allows you to use Excel spreadsheets, Access databases or text files to produce charts, graphs and maps that can be added to the web.  I have yet to try it out.  I am still at the stage of watching the introductory YouTube videos.  Once I get it up and running, I’ll post my progress under the Projects portion on the blog.  If you have used Tableau before please feel free to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear the plus and minuses of your experience.

Brief History of GIS.

Most of my professional life has revolved around GIS (Geographical Information Systems).  GIS is a mapping application that is used by many disciplines to visualize and map data.  GIS systems use tabular data along with spatial data so that patterns can be seen and interpreted.

All kinds of data can be mapped such as demographic, environmental, medical, etc. There are many kinds of GIS systems available, some are pricey and some are available for free.  GIS does have a steep learning curve, but once you understand how it works you use the same principles to just about all GIS platforms.

If you are interested in learning more about cartography and GIS check out this article from the Smithsonian on the history of GIS.