Top NY Picks: Me vs. Reviews

I have a few upcoming speaking appearances, including the International Cartography Conference (DC July 6); Information Visualization 2017 (London July 13) and Strata Data Conference (NYC Sept 26-28).

Since NYC is a city I often visit, I thought I’d make a list of places I like and compare it to the ratings on a trip review website, in this case Trip Advisor. In this example, each row lists a place I like and a few words from a recent review. Then, added typographic symbols indicate the mean and one standard deviation. With the added bolding, it forms a kind of box plot made of text.  What you’ll notice is that some of the things I like are also liked by reviewers (e.g. MOMA, NYPL) but some things are not liked so well by reviewers (Lever House, Citicorp Center):


To provide a bit more context as to why this may be, the underlines indicate the number of reviewers. There are more than 18,000 reviews of Rockefeller Plaza – seriously? – what does the 18,001st reviewer really think they are adding to the reviews? On the other end though, Lever House and Citicorp aren’t written up by many people – they don’t score highly perhaps because no one has told the visitor to look at these places and they don’t. Some of the reviewers who do take a bit of time to review them are dismissive.

This visualization is interesting for the discrepancy between the review site and the personal favorites. It is also interesting for the insight to herd mentality to notch one’s name on a deemed cultural landmark (18,001!) versus stopping to smell the other roses that everyone else walks past. And that’s what makes cities like New York great: there are millions of interesting places in every nook, plaza and market waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

About richardbrath

Richard is a long time visualization designer and researcher. Professionally, I am one of the partners of Uncharted Software Inc. I have recently completed a PhD in data visualization at LSBU. The opinions on this blog are related to my personal interests in data visualization, particularly around research interests related to my PhD work- this blog is about exploratory aspects of data visualization not proven principles.
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