I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. (→ More about me.)

Some of my Work

  • Data Visualization. Princeton University Press. / Overview /  Buy on Amazon 
  • “Fuck Nuance.” Sociological Theory 35:118-127. / PDF
  • “Seeing Like a Market.” Socio-Economic Review, 15:9-29. / PDF
  • “The Performativity of Networks.” European Journal of Sociology, 56:175–205. / PDF
  • Last Best Gifts. University of Chicago Press. / Overview /  Buy on Amazon 

Recent Writing

Comparing Distributions

19 December 2021 Update Updated on December 22nd, 2021. I made the generated data simpler so that the resulting distributions would be less confusing to look at. When we want to see how something varies across categories, the trellis or small multiple plot is a good friend. We repeatedly draw the same graph once for each category, lining them up in a way that makes them comparable. Here’s an example from my book, using the gapminder data, which provides a cross-national time series of GDP per capita for many countries.

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The Polarization of Death

30 October 2021 I’m continuing to update the covdata package in anticipation of a Data Visualization for Social Science course I’ll teach next semester. I revisited the Partisan Trajectories graph, as it seems there’s more that could be done with it. More on that in the future, I hope. For now, here’s an updated version using the 2020 Presidential election as the basis for the deciles, and more recent fatality data. As before, the idea is to take the time series of cumulative COVID-19 deaths and split it into deciles by a county-level quantity of interest.

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Excess Deaths in 2020

21 October 2021 Prompted by a guest visit to Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel’s Advanced Data Visualization class here at Duke, I’ve updated my US and state excess death graphs. Earlier posts (like this one from February) will update as well. I am interested in all-cause mortality in the United States for 2020. I look at each jurisdiction, ordered by how far off its 2015-2019 average it was in 2020. All-cause mortality by jurisdiction. The zero-percent line in this graph is average deaths between 2015 and 2019.

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Building a PDP-11/70 Kit

9 October 2021 The PDP-11/70 was a 16-bit minicomputer built by Digital Equipment Corporation in the 1970s. Amongst other things it is well-known for its front panel designs, with color-coded (and color-coordinated) switches and associated blinkenlights. I have an interest in vintage computers, mostly focused on Macs from the late 1980s, that I ended up indulging a little during the pandemic. I’ve fixed up a couple of SE/30s and a Quadra 700) over the past year.

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Covid Trajectories

3 September 2021 I updated the covdata package for the first time in a while, as I’ll be using it to teach in the near future. As a side-effect, I ended up taking a look at what the ongoing polarization or divergence of the COVID experience is like in different parts of the United States. Here I use county-level data to draw out some of the trends. The idea is to take the time series of COVID-19 deaths and split it into deciles by some county-level quantity of interest.

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