For this class, you will be keeping a “Data Diary,” to help you get into the practice of regular writing. In general, you will need to submit four entries to your diary per week, and entries will be checked on Sunday night.

Your entries can be written in a casual and conversational style, and should be focused on things you have observed/read/thought that connect to our class. For example, if you see a particular piece of journalism that sparked your interest, you could write about that. Questions are also good, particularly if they might be newsworthy to answer.

Entries can be short, just a few sentences, but please attempt to write them throughout the week rather than waiting until Sunday to think of something. Doing your diary entries “in the moment” will help you hone your observational and writing skills.

Some examples of Data Diary entries:

“November 25

A lot of people have been sharing the 538 article relevant to the Darren Wilson lack of indictment without seeming to have read it. The headline (“It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did”) is grabby but misleading, given the article content. The article goeson to explain that while prosecuters convince grand juries to indict in nearly all cases, this is not true when the prospective defendant is a police officer. So it is incredibly rare to fail to get an indictment, but it’s pretty ordinary when the case is related to a police shooting."

“November 29

A sociologist I follow on Twitter posted, “US violent crime rates have been falling for 20 years. This general increase in safety has made properly structural violence more visible.” I wonder how we could actually test that and whether it is an actual structural effect or a change in how the media reports violence (i.e. ideological)."

“November 30

With all of the Black Friday sales going on, I’ve been wondering about how companies use all of the additional information available to them via online sales. Prices on Amazon change with significant frequency, and the retailer can see the goods we place in our “shopping carts”– do they change the price of goods based on the indicated interest? This seems like it could significantly alter the negotiating power in the existing relationship between retailer and consumer."

“November 31

Spent too much time playing candy crush, which is really full of uncertainty. Not sure if the developers took statistics into account. How do they control the difficulty of the game?"

Examples reproduced from the book by Andrew Gelman and Deborah Nolan, ``Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks’’