Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2017.11.08 edition

Where guns come from, tech diversity, rent-to-own prices, Indian movie theaters, and the friends of Friends.

Gun origins. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) helps trace guns — such as those recovered at crime scenes by law enforcement agencies — back to their original manufacturers, wholesale distributors, dealers, and purchasers. Each year, ATF publishes a range of datasets based on these gun traces. The datasets for 2016 provide state-by-state tallies of gun caliber, state of original purchase, possessors’ age, associated crime, and more. Related:Gun Laws Stop At State Lines, But Guns Don’t,” from FiveThirtyEight, using the data. Also related:How a Gun Trace Works,” from The Trace. Previously: Firearm background checks (DIP 2015.12.09), which my colleague Peter Aldhous analyzed last week, finding that gun sales did not spike after the Las Vegas shooting.

Silicon Valley diversity. Reporters at the Center for Investigative Reporting asked 200+ of the largest Silicon Valley tech companies for their official diversity data. Specifically, the reporters requested each company’s latest EEO-1, the detailed demographic report that every large U.S. employer must submit to the federal government. Only 23 companies shared their data. For those that did, their numbers are now available as a tidy spreadsheet. [h/t Sophie Chou]

Rent-to-own prices. As part of NerdWallet’s recent investigation into Rent-A-Center, “the nation’s largest rent-to-own company,” reporters compiled pricing data for 39 consumer products on For each product, the dataset lists the various Rent-A-Center costs (e.g., installment fees for weekly/monthly payment plans, cash prices, et cetera) in each of 48 states and D.C. — plus prices for the same product at standard online retailers. Related: NerdWallet’s analysis of the data.

Indian movie theaters. Over at BuzzFeed India, Harsha Devulapalli and Janak Jain have crowned Hyderabad the best city in India for going to the movies, based on their analysis of nearly 600 theaters in eight major cities. The underlying dataset lists each theater’s location, name, average ticket price (where available), number of screens, and number of seats.

The friends of Friends. A few years ago, economist Alex Albright and a friend transcribed the plotline-sharing dynamics of Friends’ six friends, across all 236 episodes. In the very first episode (“The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate”), Monica and Rachel each have their own plotline; Rachel and Ross share a plotline; and Chandler, Joey, and Ross share another plotline. Related: Albright’s analysis of the data.