Jenny Cann

I was reading Ben Mayhew’s explanations of his data visualisations on his blog site Experimental 3-6-1.

I came across his modification of Jenny Cann’s table idea. Ben’s description of his visual Cann tables is:

The main feature of the original Cann table is to space the clubs out in proportion to how many points they’ve won, making it easier to see where (and how big) the gaps between teams are.

I’ve taken this idea a step further and arranged teams based on what their final points total would be if they continued to earn them at the same rate …

I really enjoy Ben’s visualisations but I had not looked closely at Cann tables until Ben’s explanation. Nor had I any knowledge of Jenny Cann.

It has been difficult to find out much about Jenny. But my interest in the biographical background of analysts prompted me to learn more. The timeline I have uncovered is:

Jenny maintained a blog site from 1998 to 2003. It was called The Clock End.

Jenny died in 2003. The traces I found  of her were:

Mark Pitt (2004):

Jenny Cann used to maintain this interesting variation on the Premier League table. Her tragic death near the end of the 2002/3 season left the last table with 3 matches to play …

Jenny is mentioned in a tribute to Steve Gleiber (2005). Jenny is referred to as ‘Kampo’ by Kevin Lovegrove.

A Zach Slaton post (2012) (used as the reference on the Wikipedia page) refers to Jenny’s league tables.

Penguin (2013) noted:

In the late 1990s Jenny Cann used to publish a ‘visual’ premier league table showing the spaces between the teams via points rather than position to show the distances between teams. After her death … this became known as the Cann Table.

Brian Dawes (2014)

Jenny was a lovely lady and a serious Arsenal fan who died before her time. Quite rightly she felt that by showing the actual gap between all the teams the actual state of the league could be better conveyed. And she was absolutely right.

There is a Wikipedia page about Cann tables. It was first published in 2014.

By good fortune after I had compiled this timeline, I followed a link on a Danish blog site (Superstats) and discovered a link to a web archive of Jenny’s blog.

This is, I think, Jenny’s first visual league table posted on 10 January 1998:

This , I think, is the last visual table, in the web archive.

There is an archived picture there too:

I am delighted I have been able to find traces of Jenny. This blog post is my first use of the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, an open source initiative that aims to provide mobile optimised content that can load instantly everywhere. Hopefully it will help introduce new readers to Jenny.

Photo Credits

The Arsenal Clock

The Clock End (Chris Parry)


I have found a reference to a Jennifer Carol Cann who was born in 1962 and died in May 2003. If this is Jenny she is described as a civil servant.

Using Flourish

Yesterday, I saw this tweet from Mara Averick.

I thought I would investigate and try out the Flourish visualisation platform with some data from the English Premier League.

I have looked at the momentum each of the nine teams who have changed their manager during the 2017-2018 season. I have a very basic measure of momentum based upon results (1 for a win, 0 for a draw, -1 for a defeat).

The visualisation can be found at:

Mara very kindly made a gif to overcome some issues in sharing the visualisation address on Twitter.

Intelligence Augmentation: meeting Vannevar and Douglas


It has taken me some time but I have managed to unearth some primary sources in the discussion of intelligence augmentation.

I do think this is a profoundly important concept to consider when we contemplate our relationship to artificial intelligence in our cultural contexts.

A slide shared by Melanie Cook (2017) sent me off on my reading journey.

Peter Skagestad (1993:157) set me on the way too. He observed:

the pioneers of the personal-computer revolution did not theorize about the essence of the computer, but focused rather on the essence of human thinking, and then sought ways to adapt computers to the goal of improving human thinking.

His discussion took me to Douglas Engelbart’s report Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework (October 1962) prepared for the Director of Information Sciences in the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Douglas introduced me to Vannevar Bush’s article As We May Think (1945).

In this post I introduce you to Vannevar and Douglas. I apologise if you have met them both already.

Vannevar Bush

There is a very detailed account of Vannevar’s life and work in Wikipedia. His 1945 article provides an introduction to his thinking and a vision for the scientific endeavour he nurtured in the next four decades. The Atlantic Editor notes “Dr. Bush calls for a new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge”.

Douglas Engelbart (1962:48) quotes Vannevar extensively: “it was deemed appropriate to our purpose here to summarize it in detail and to quote from it at considerable length”.

There are some key passages for me in Vannevar’s article. The first is to do with communication:

Science has provided the swiftest communication between individuals; it has provided a record of ideas and has enabled man to manipulate and to make extracts from that record so that knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual.

And how we manage these communications:

There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose. If the aggregate time spent in writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling. The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present day interests, but rather that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record.

Then there is:

The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.

Vannevar notes that there is help on the horizon, namely, “there are signs of a change as new and powerful instrumentalities come into use”.Vannevar’s example of an instrumentality was an imagined device, a memex:

in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

A memex is primarily a piece of furniture. It is designed to support the human mind’s associative inquiry (an “intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain”) and “any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another”.

Douglas Engelbart


Seventeen years after Vannevar’s article, Douglas presented his report Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework to the Director of Information Sciences in the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Mike Cassidy (2013) wrote of Douglas:

He believed that computers, which were primarily for crunching numbers and spitting out answers when he started his work, had the ability to empower people and enhance their intellect in ways that would improve lives.

Douglas’s 1962 report addressed this empowerment. It was “an initial summary report of a project taking a new and systematic approach to improving the intellectual effectiveness of the individual human being” (1962:ii).

‘Augmenting the human intellect’ for Douglas meant increasing a person’s capability to approach a complex situation and derive solutions to the problem. This will involve providing access to “the services of a digital computer” and “developing the new methods of thinking and working” that allow the human to capitalize on these services” (1962:3). (He notes elsewhere “Individuals who operate effectively in our culture have already been considerably ‘augmented’. (1962:15))

Douglas’s report presents a conceptual framework that orients us “toward the real possibilities and problems associated with using modern technology to give direct aid to an individual in comprehending complex situations, isolating the significant factors, and solving problems” (1962:8).

He suggests that our capabilities are augmented by:

  • artifacts
  • language
  • methodologies for problem-solving
  • training

He proposes:

The system we want to improve can thus be visualized as a trained human being together with his artifacts, language, and methodology. The explicit new system we contemplate will involve as artifacts computers,and computer-controlled information-storage, information-handling, and information-display devices. (1962:9)

Douglas named this system H-LAM/T (Human using Lauguage, Artifacts, Methodology, in which he/she is Trained).

As he explored his conceptual approach to augmentation, Douglas discussed Vannevar’s memex ideas at length (“This material is so relevant and so well put that I quote it in its entirety” (1962:50).)

Douglas concludes his report with ta discussion of how the intellectual effectiveness of a human can be significantly improved by an engineering-like approach toward redesigning changeable components of a system. (1962:128)

The aim of such an engineering-like approach is to provide:

potential users in different domains of intellectual activity with a basic general-purpose augmentation system from which they themselves can construct the special features of a system to match their jobs, and their ways of working—or it could be used on the other hand by researchers who wanted to pursue the development of special augmentation systems for special fields. (1962:130)

Douglas concludes his report with advocacy for a dynamic discipline aimed at understanding and harnessing ‘neural power’.


Vannevar and Douglas’s visions for intelligence augmentation make for fascinating reading seventy-three and fifty-six years on respectively. I do think they should be essential reading for anyone exploring sport informatics and analytics and contemplating special augmentation systems for such a special field.

I hope both of them would take some delight in Ross Goodwin’s suggestion (2016):

When we teach computers to write, the computers don’t replace us any more than pianos replace pianists—in a certain way, they become our pens, and we become more than writers. We become writers of writers.

I trust that in becoming writers of writers, we create new opportunities to incorporate artificial intelligence into our own augmentation and our transformation of practice.

Photo Credits

Telephone Switchboard Operators 1914 (Reyner Media, CC BY 2.0)

Vannevar Bush (This image is a work of the United States Department of the Treasury, taken or made as part of an employee’s official duties. The image is in the public domain in the United States.)

Douglas Engelbart (Smithsonian Magazine)

On the way to the training ground (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)