Data has parents. Someone decides what are and what are not assists during a basketball game, tallying them from the sidelines. Headlines about the number of people who have died from Ebola probably began with an aid worker counting cases. Understanding a stat means exploring its origin story.
The Collectors, a series of 10 short documentaries from FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films, tells these stories. The films profile passionate people scrounging for information to save the world’s bees or find the formula for funny. The first documentary, “Food Cartographers,” directed by Jamie Schutz and produced by Steven Cantor, follows Ethan Welty and Caleb Phillips, who created a crowdsourced online map to track the food growing in the wild in cities across the globe.