On the radar?

I missed the Twitter exchange about radar plots yesterday.

I caught up with some of the exchanges through a Ted Knutson post about Revisiting Radars.

Ted noted “The fact that lots of people have reactions to this type of work is a good thing, not a bad one”.

I have been using radar plots in my work for some time. I am mindful of the issues that Luke and Sam (@stat-sam) raise.

Some time ago (2008), I was fascinated by the title of a Purna Duggirala (Chandoo) post You are NOT spider man, so why do you use radar charts? I enjoyed Graham Odd’s (2011) critique of radar charts too.

Primed with Graham’s observation:

… the overall shape presented for a series on a radar chart does not leverage any of the pre-attentive attributes we perceive quantitatively. In essence, this means we are unable to attribute much genuine meaning to the shape of a series. The only patterns our visual perception can really discern in a data set presented as a radar chart are similarity and extreme outliers.

I tried to use my radar charts as a stimulus for conversation. Like, Ted, over the years I have found radar charts a good way to hook attention and trigger conversation. I had similar experiences to Ted in a variety of sport contexts:

In situations like this, visuals go a long way toward opening the conversation. If you show a table of numbers to a coach who isn’t already on board, you’re dead. Bar charts? Only mostly dead. Radars? Interesting… Tell me more.

My use of the charts acknowledged the limitations of the visualisation. Once the coaches had started to discuss the issues raised by a fallible (flawed) visualisation, we inevitably started to discuss how performance might be re-presented (represented) which led in many cases to some fascinating second-order conversations about observation and the narratives we build around performance … and other forms of visualisation.

My willingness to use radar charts dates back to William Anderson’s (1971) discussion of descriptive-analytic research in physical education. He notes:

Their principal concern is to collect accurate descriptive records of events in actual classrooms and to analyze these records in a way that enables a better understanding of the events. (1971:2)

He adds:

The descriptive records of teaching which emerge are in many ways like the descriptive record of a basketball game contained in a basketball shooting chart. The shooting chart is a diagram of a basketball court on which is recorded the number of each player who took a shot, the place on the court from which the shot was taken, and whether the shot was made. The shooting chart is a record of a critical dimension of “real world events” (the game). A careful examination of the chart can lead to understandings and insights which were not possible during the game itself. In much the same way, descriptive records of teaching provide a picture of real world events (classroom interaction) which lead to a deeper understanding of the teaching process. (1971:3)

Ted makes the point “As I designed them, radars exist to help you open the door with statistical novices, and from that perspective they have been wildly successful”.

This happened in conversations about pedagogy too in William Anderson’s work.

Like Ted, I am acutely aware of the flaws in radar charts. We have unprecedented expertise in sport now. The stories we can produce have immense visualisation resources to share performances. The key for me will be how we work with a variety of audiences in sport, and particularly in decision support for coaches, to achieve the level of engagement Ted reports:

Radars start a conversation. They get a reaction. And for whatever reason, football people are often more comfortable talking about and digesting them than almost any other vis type I have encountered. (Original emphasis.)

These issues are why I have included Audiences and Messages in my open, online discussion of sport informatics and analytics. We have great opportunities for conversation in our community of practice about diverse practices.

Photo Credit

Crystal web (Wendy, CC BY NC-ND 2.0)

Shots and Goals: Quality, Expectations and Context

I have been reviewing the literature on shots and goals in ice hockey and association football.

In doing so, I am mindful of Ted Knutson’s (2013) observation:

The soccer analytics community is currently growing by leaps and bounds, which means that there’s new information being processed almost every single day. It also means that there are tons of new people interested in the topic, and figuring out who to read or where to go can be a bit daunting at first.

I have compiled a bibliography that covers 2004 to 2017. Link.

My paper is incomplete but extends to twelve pages. It is a Google Doc so I will continue to update it. One of my problems in researching the literature was my inability to access some of the ice hockey articles.

I ended up on this landing page a number of times:

I have included the references in my list and apologise for the lack of access. I could not find the posts archived or curated anywhere else.

I have started to compile a synthesis of the literature. This is another ongoing Google Doc project. Link.

Many years ago, I pursued the coaching connections between association football and field hockey. I was inspired by Horst Wein.

In locating conversations about quality and expectations of shots and goals in association football, I have looked more closely than I have previously at the ice hockey literature. I found the quality of writing and insights shared profoundly interesting. I particularly liked the idea that many of the writers used pseudonyms, including the exotic Vic Ferrari.

In a desire to create an open educational resource from this review, I have created a Google Doc to offer a partial introduction to football analytics. Link.

At the heart of the resource is a discussion about Lex Immers.

I was only able to access Michiel De Hoog’s (2014) post because of Erica Moore’s (2016) translation of the original Dutch article.

Erica’s open sharing reaffirmed for me not only the delights of open sharing but also the vibrancy of the football analytics literature.

I am keen to develop these resources and would welcome any guidance a remarkable community of practice can offer.

Photo Credit

Peter Whittingham Scores From the Freekick (John Candy)

Connecting 131008

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It has been a busy few days.

I am delighted with the response to Darrell Cobner’s guest post.

I have been thinking a great deal about the “disciplinary gaze” issues raised by Darrell and by Chris Carling and his colleagues (2013).

I believe profoundly that this gaze has agnostic qualities … it occurs in a variety of contexts and at different tempos.

Digital sharing is transforming scholarship and I hope that by connecting through a range of media we enable thick descriptions to emerge and be shared openly. I keep returning to the concept of CommentPress:

CommentPress is an open source theme and plugin for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line or block-by-block in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation.

Whilst installing the CommentPress Core plugin for WordPress, I managed to remove all my customisations for Clyde Street! I am going to set up a new blog space to share the functionality of the plugin and explore the possibilities for co-authorship.

As I open up these opportunities, thanks to Jenny Mackness, I am mindful of the growing discussion of connectivism.

George Couros has reminded me that Isolation is now a choice educators make. He notes:

Personally, blogging has made me really think about what I do in my role as an administrator, and I would say that the process has really clarified a lot of my thinking.  The other aspect of writing for an audience and getting their feedback has made a huge difference on my learning as being challenged has made me really think about my work.  In fact, I am writing this because someone read my blog post, challenged it, and I came back to revisit my thinking.  That wouldn’t have happened if I wrote it in a journal that I tuck away at home.

When my daily feeds enable me to read about James Grayson’s work and contemplate data shared by Ted Knutson, I am excited think about what co-production might achieve.

Propsects of co-production returned me to a Dan Pontefract post from 2011. I have been thinking about how our personal learning journeys and environments move us through his Digital Learning Quadrants.

DP1

I do think gaze is transformed by the opportunities to collaborate and cooperate. It might lead us to engage in the kind of discussion about data  Annette Markham proposes.

Data is, as research terminology goes, a deceptively easy word to toss around. It’s easily accessible for most of us, fills in as a better descriptor than the term ‘stuff,’ and adds instant credibility to that which it describes. The term ‘data’ does far more than describe units of information used in the course of one’s study. It functions as a powerful frame for discourse about knowledge — both where it comes from and how it is derived; privileges certain ways of knowing over others; and through its ambiguity, can foster a self–perpetuating sensibility that it is incontrovertible, something to question the meaning of, or the veracity of, but not the existence of.

 Photo Credit

Busy District Line (2) (Owen Blacker, CC BY-NC 2.0)