20 January 2023
Farewell for a while
This newsletter will be taking a break for a short while. Partly because I have a madly busy few weeks coming up. Partly because, having done this since 2014 with only a short break in late 2018/early 2019, I definitely need some time off. Partly because, as someone who really needs to get motoring on their book idea this year *and* maintain/make some sort of work/life balance, I need to start more ruthlessly prioritising my time. And partly because, as a freelancer who is spending a lot of time and not making any money on this newsletter at the moment, I need some space to think about how to make it work.
A huge thank you to all of you, for subscribing to and following Warning: Graphic Content. I *really* appreciate everyone who has stuck with it, and the many kind comments, suggested links and pun-related groans over the years. Hopefully there’ll be more to come in future.
In the meantime, there are lots of alternatives in my spreadsheet of data-related newsletters (and please add any I’ve missed). I’m still on Twitter, might be on Mastodon, and may pop up on Medium, too. And you can always get in touch via email.
Ah, Twitter. The implosion of my main social media network — a great time to temporarily turn off the newsletter.
Our survey said
And a great time to finally summarise the results of the reader survey that I sent out, and 18 of you kindly filled in, a few months back. Let’s start with the marks out of 5 for how useful everyone finds each section (1 being not at all, and 5 being hugely):
Two reflections: first, not to go all Sally Field, but you actually like the introduction — I never quite knew if I was just rambling into the ether. Second, the Graphic Content section — which is where this newsletter started as a way to show IfG colleagues the power of dataviz, back in 2013 — is actually the least popular section (even if slightly more respondents gave it 5 out of 5 than any other section).
I think that score also reflects my personal journey — while I’m still passionate about good (and bad) data visualisation, as the years have gone on I’ve become more and more interested in the stuff that goes into the Meta data section. That seems to be true of many of you, too.
Good job the newsletter name isn’t a pun on dataviz, eh?
A few other quick stats:
- 11% of those who responded have been subscribed for more than four years, and another 44% between one and four years
- 18% of those who responded read Graphic Content first — everyone else starts with the Introduction (a very good place to start, as the nun once sang)
- And everyone who filled out the survey subscribes to the email, rather than coming to it via Medium or Twitter.
As for the qualitative questions:
- Things that you like include: the volume and variety of links, the fact that someone else has read everything (!) so you don’t have to, the bullet format making it easy to scan, the fact it reflects upon chart design and research, the combination of dataviz and data resources but also wider insight into current affairs, when I get opinionated, and the job opportunities (again, never knew if they were useful or not). Some of you even like learning about what I’m up to. And the puns. God help you.
- Things you thought could be improved: several of you thought it was too long (‘overwhelming’, could be more carefully curated, should sometimes cut a few links that refer to the same story), even though it’s called Graphic Content there aren’t actually any graphics and the succession of text and bullets can be overwhelming, the links to paywalled articles, and the playful and innocuous title being easily confused with spam or not fully conveying what the newsletter is about. ‘Some international stringers’ was an ask for the future — I’ve become more and more conscious of the lack of international breadth and the fact I tend to rely on the same, mainstream outlets for many of the links (which could be more diverse in several other respects).
All very fair, as well as useful. On length (and format) — the contrasting views are interesting, and I will plead Blaise Pascal: ‘I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter’. It also prompts a reflection from me, that it has become more and more difficult to pull the newsletter together. Part of this is a proliferation of data visualisation and of data and digital news. Part of this is a paywall issue — trying to catch a glimpse over the paywall to see whether a link is worth including is actually quite time consuming.
And part of this represents a welcome trend even if it has made my life more difficult. Back in the day, ‘data journalism’ was a niche with dedicated outlets and Twitter accounts and you could cover most of the ground by just looking at those. Some of those survive. But data journalism has, by and large, been mainstreamed into news outlets’ wider output. Great for data journalism — if irritating for those of us having to cast our eyes more widely to grab the best examples of it, and I suspect I often miss quite a lot.
Sometimes I wonder how I used to do this daily — perhaps breaking it up through the week, and there being less news about data/me being less focused on pulling in the news about data rather than charts, actually made it easier.
Thank you again to everyone who filled out the survey, and especially the many who replied that they already recommend the newsletter to friends and colleagues. But particular thanks to the wag who said they’d recommend it to even more people ‘in return for cash in a numbered Swiss account’.
- It’s a Data Bites social mobility/missing data special supported by the Social Mobility Commission next week — 6pm on Wednesday 25 January. And the following week it’s a defence special supported by Palantir — details here (and here) imminently.
- The fourth of our six data-sharing-during-the-pandemic roundtable write-ups — on GPDPR — will appear here today. The third — on counter fraud — was published last week. Project partners Scott Logic have published their latest blogpost. Our event — on the six case studies and final report — is on 8 February.
Connected by Data:
- Before Christmas, we held an event in parliament on what the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and wider policy could mean for automated decision-making, data at work and data in schools. Here’s my write-up.
- I’m currently working on various projects in various places, but keep an eye on mySociety’s TICTeC Labs site for the fruits of the work we’ve commissioned and an event reflecting on the programme, and the ODI for some bits and pieces (including some events at the State of Open Conference). I’ll also be publishing my 2022 year note on Medium at some point
- Fancy a free choir rehearsal? Try out my choir, the New Tottenham Singers, on Tuesday, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
- I think 2023 might be the year where data and digital policy starts to get more political. The French have been there for a while
- (A vaguely terrifying) 11 years after we first did it, the Orwell Foundation are post-blogging George Orwell’s Wigan Pier diaries on Substack.
Hopefully see some of you at Govcamp this weekend, or otherwise around virtually or in real life soon.
Thanks again, and very best
Enjoying Warning: Graphic Content?
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- Buy me a coffee (thank you!)
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- Check out (and add to) this list of other data-related newsletters and podcasts (etc)
- The Westminster Accounts: the story so far (Sky News — more)
- The Westminster Accounts (Sky News)
- The Westminster Accounts (Tortoise)
- An alternative view (Conservative Home)
A feast for the Census
- Build a custom area profile (ONS)
- How your area has changed in 10 years: Census 2021 (ONS)
- Find facts and figures about areas in England and Wales (ONS — more)
- Are Britain’s striking public sector workers underpaid?* (FT)
- Disputes over pay are hobbling Britain’s public sector* (The Economist)
- Do the public support the nurses’ strike?* (New Statesman)
- New gadget shows how long waiting times at NHS trusts are (Reach Data Unit)
- Britons turn to private healthcare as NHS crisis worsens* (FT)
- NHS WINTER CRISIS* (Telegraph)
- NHS crisis: How did we get here and is there a potential route back? (Sky News)
- Extra deaths in 2022 close to highest level in 70 years — how much are NHS failings to blame? (Sky News)
- NHS crisis (Factcheck)
- People with dementia cut vital care to cope with inflation* (New Statesman)
- The cost of dying: “pauper’s funerals” have doubled since 2019* (New Statesman)
- Why did teenage suicides decline during America’s first covid-19 lockdowns?* (The Economist)
- Antidepressants are over-prescribed, but genuinely help some patients* (The Economist)
- The pay rises you need to beat inflation* (Telegraph)
- A flurry of new studies identifies causes of the Industrial Revolution* (The Economist)
- The New Bankers to the World Aren’t on Wall Street (Bloomberg)
- Cost-of-Living Crisis Is Top Immediate Risk for Davos Elite (Bloomberg)
- Elon Musk Might Never Be the World’s Richest Person Again (Bloomberg)
- An exceptionally silly and misleading chart (Dan Neidle)
- How popular is Joe Biden?* (The Economist)
- Atheism is still a taboo for American politicians* (The Economist)
- Examining the letters sent by 5 GOP House committees as part of their investigations (Axios)
- America’s far right is increasingly protesting against LGBT people* (The Economist)
Weather and climate
- Scientists study how wavy jet stream plus ‘extra warmth’ fuels extreme weather* (FT)
- Twelve European countries broke temperature records in 2022 (The Guardian)
- 2022 was fifth-warmest year on record, finds climate report* (FT)
- Climate graphic of the week: ‘alarming’ trends revealed in weather reports* (FT)
- Europe’s freakish winter heatwave breaks records* (The Economist)
- Despite Rain Storms, California Is Still in Drought* (New York Times)
- Atmospheric rivers won’t end California’s drought* (Washington Post)
- “Nothing green” about soaring waste incineration, says former Defra chief scientist* (New Statesman)
- What the end of the US shale revolution would mean for the world* (FT)
- After years of false dawns, can Britain realise its nuclear ambitions?* (FT)
- What it would take for Apple to disentangle itself from China?* (FT)
- How Apple tied its fortunes to China* (FT)
- Elon Musk drove more than a million people to Mastodon — but many aren’t sticking around (The Guardian)
- Chips Are the New Oil and America Is Spending Billions to Safeguard Its Supply* (Wall Street Journal)
- A journey into the hows and whys of SpaceX’s Starlinks and the visible trails they make at night — sometimes for months — after successful launches (Washington Post)
Sport and leisure
- Football clubs’ revenues rebound from covid — especially in England* (The Economist)
- The roller coaster of an NFL season (Axios)
- We explored university syllabi to identify the literary canon. (The Pudding)
- 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer (Edelman)
- The UK’s adoption system is in peril* (FT)
- Close call: most popular Australian baby names of the past century revealed (The Guardian)
- Iran’s digital protesters call for Revolutionary Guard to be designated ‘terrorists’ by international community (Sky News)
- Michelle Donelan: The Online Safety Bill. “Legal But Harmful” had to go. Here’s why. (ConservativeHome)
- The trouble with online safetyism (Unherd)
- Tech bosses could face jail after Tory MPs revolt on bill (BBC News)
- Donelan confirms stiffer online safety measures after backbench pressure (The Guardian)
- Molly Russell: Dad criticises social media firms’ responses to coroner (BBC News)
- ONLINE SAFETY BILL THIRD READING BRIEFING (ORG)
- Wikipedia criticises ‘harsh’ new Online Safety Bill plans (BBC News)
- Why is the Online Safety Bill a sink for all policy goals? (Matthew Lesh and replies)
- Ensuring People Have a Say in Future Data Governance (Connected by Data)
- The government’s data protection plans risk prioritising growth over human rights — but it’s not too late to change course* (Prospect)
Open for the best
- Readout from the Pre Multi-stakeholder Forum meeting | 14th Dec 2022 (UK Open Government Network)
- The Power of Partnership in Open Government: Reconsidering Multistakeholder Governance Reform (Suzanne J. Piotrowski, Daniel Berliner, Alex Ingrams)
- Open justice: court reporting in the digital age: Government Response to the Committee’s Fifth Report of Session, 2022–23 (UK Government)
- Principles for effective beneficial ownership disclosure — updated January 2023 (Open Ownership)
- CONSULTATION: Draft OGP Strategy 2023–2028 (Open Government Partnership)
- Does more data make for better behaved MPs? (LSE Politics and Policy)
AI got ‘rithm
- Becoming a chatbot: my life as a real estate AI’s human backup (The Guardian)
- Algorithms Need Management Training, Too* (Wired)
- Getty Images is suing the creators of AI art tool Stable Diffusion for scraping its content (The Verge)
- Some Chatbots Ganged Up and Plagiarized Me (Slate)
- What Happens When AI Has Read Everything?* (The Atlantic)
- AI governance and human rights (Chatham House)
- This Film Does Not Exist* (New York Times)
Sharing is caring
- Data sharing for counter fraud activities: Summary of a private roundtable (IfG)
- How data literacy gives leaders the edge (Scott Logic)
Your face or mine?
- Behind the scenes of TV’s first deep fake comedy: ‘None of it is illegal. Everything is silly’ (The Guardian)
- Ukraine war: What does facial recognition software make of Putin’s backdrop crowd? (BBC News)
That was the year that was
- Time to look back (mySociety)
- The Ada Lovelace Institute in 2022 (Ada Lovelace Institute)
- (Just a Sample of) What We Accomplished in 2022 (The Markup)
Infra me, infra me, they’ve all got it infra me
- G20 — a unique opportunity to advance digital public infrastructure (OECD)
- What is insight infrastructure? (Connected by Data)
- How ethnicity recording differs across health data sources and the impact on analysis (ONS)
- Thinking and Reading at the Intersection of Labor, Race, and Tech (Data & Society)
- The Crypto Collapse and the End of the Magical Thinking That Infected Capitalism* (New York Times)
- Only three services remain on GOV.UK Verify as closure nears (Public Technology)
- The Hidden Cost of Cheap TVs* (The Atlantic)
- Are we too worried about misinformation? (Recode)
- Irish privacy regulator to take European Union body to court over unlawful interference (The Record)
- Why everyone should be able to understand code* (FT)
- EVENT: Data Bites #37: Getting things done with data in government (IfG)
- EVENT: Whitehall Monitor 2023: launch event (IfG)
- EVENT: Lessons from data sharing during the pandemic (IfG)
- EVENT: Follow the Science? Data, Models and Decisions in the 21st Century (Data Science Institute, LSE)
- EVENT: Looking before we leap? Ethical review processes for AI and data science research (Ada Lovelace Institute)
- CONSULTANCY: Information architect / Data visualisation expert (Westminster Foundation for Democracy)
- JOB: Deputy Head, Data Strategy (DfE)
- JOB: Defence Digital — Senior Data Governance Manager (MoD)
- JOB: Head of Digital Twins (DfT)
- JOB: Lead Data Governance Manager (DWP)
- JOB: Head of Service Delivery — Information and Data Services (HM Land Registry)
- JOB: Programme Manager — BridgeAI (Innovate UK)
- JOB: Director of Analysis (Climate Change Committee)
- JOB: Data Journalist (Sky News)
- ‘This song sucks’: Nick Cave responds to ChatGPT song written in style of Nick Cave (The Guardian)
- RSS Christmas Quiz 2022: How many puzzles can you crack? (RSS)
- Nice nod to Playfair in Enola Holmes 2 (Alex Selby-Boothroyd)
- 2022 wasn’t the year of Cleopatra — so why was she the most viewed page on Wikipedia? (University College Dublin)
- Why Warrington’s Own Buses (WOB), which runs the buses in Warrington, is not covered by FOI (The FOI Daily, via Martin Rosenbaum)