Have you seen Swivel yet? It’s another site for graph and data junkies like me. You can upload data there and plot it (a handy tool for bloggers). I find the interface a bit of a struggle when creating a new graph, but I’ve managed OK with the graph below, showing homelessness as a fraction of US state population. This means we can look to see how Compare Stuff’s approach (using web search engine hit data) measures up against real-world data.

Real world data
% of State Pop. by State

Compare Stuff web-based data

The top fives from each are:

  • Real-world: District of Columbia, Nevada, Rhode Island, Hawaii, California
  • Compare-stuff: Louisiana, Washington, Mississippi, District of Columbia, Florida

Not a massive overlap there (just DC). It looks like the hurricane-hit states get more web coverage of homelessness. Florida and Washington are ranked quite high (10 and 11) in the real-world data, but Hawaii is way off (rank 4 in real-world, rank 49 with Compare Stuff). Sadly, there’s not necessarily a correlation between the number of homeless people in a given location and the amount of talk on the web about the subject. Take California for example: surfing, start-ups and wine-making dominate.

It looks like we need an easy way to export data from Compare Stuff – to hook up with Swivel, for example, or for further offline analysis (a rank correlation coefficient would have been useful for this post, for example).

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