I went to a session on data journalism led by the Boston Globe's Evan Horowitz at an American Society of Business Press Editors bootcamp last fall. It's a whole different way of telling a story—instead of gathering opinions, quotes, and background facts, you apply statistical analysis and data visualization to an article's topic. It was fascinating, and clearly something we're moving toward, but I had no idea just how interesting its spinoffs could be until I heard today about Which Flight Will Get You There Fastest?, just launched by ESPN's FiveThirtyEight data journalism organization. Led by Nate Silver, you may have heard about FiveThirtyEight back when it correctly predicted the 2008 presidential election results in 49 out of 50 states? Yeah, those guys.
Anyway, this latest venture is pretty cool. They take airport, airline, and flight data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, run it through some super-duper algorithm (sorry to get all technical on you—more here if you want the details), and voila, a site that let's you plug in your departure and arrival airports and spits back out, well, which flight will get you there fastest. Unfortunately, it's not the one I already booked for an upcoming trip to Baltimore for the Pharma Forum, but what a cool tool, especially when you need your key staff—and speakers—to make the meeting on time.
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