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Mucking about in the numbers… February 6, 2009

Posted by Sarah in progress.
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Stats give me wrinkles.This, ladies and gentlemen, is what is known as “stats face”.  It is the face that I make anytime I have to work with statistics… and those forehead lines are threatening to become permanently etched in my face.  We’ll just call them war wounds, shall we?

I’m wading through the open-ended questions from my survey, looking at correlations between codes.  For the most part, the numbers are looking like I would expect them to.  In this process, though, I have learned something useful about myself.  I cannot look at a pile of statistics and see the sense in the numbers; I need those numbers to be translated into words.  I have to take a negative correlation and say, “OK, so if a person defines blogs as public, they are more likely to also reference searchability” or some such thing.  And so, in the spirit of really getting my hands dirty with it, I’m looking at it in a million different ways… output from statbase (a lovely little lightweight number-cruncher) which makes my eyes bug out almost immediately, written out as sentences in a Journler entry, and as a table in Numbers where I can sort it.  Labor-intensive, yes, but the more ways I look at the numbers, the more likely I am to actually be able to make sense of them.

Look for another upcoming post on the difficulties of doing a “dissertation by correspondence” and what I’ve been doing lately to overcome those obstacles.

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