Spotted recently in the NYTimes: “Lines and Bubbles and Bars, Oh My! New Ways to Sift Data“
Nice quote near the end on why infographics and visualization can help you when you are working with data:
Presenting results in a static spreadsheet or table may do the job. “But sometimes it’s like driving with your eyes closed,” he [Ben Schneiderman, dubbed in the article as "a pioneer in information visualization"] said. “With visualization, it might be possible to open your eyes and see something that will help you” — for instance, patterns, clusters, gaps or outliers in the data.
I had this exact experience the other day – I was working with some info on spending over the last several years. It was a very simple table, but I was getting distracted by the individual numbers, unable to see if there was a pattern. So I popped it into a simple line graph and zap! I understood the trend instantly — it was downward, which in this particular case was very much to my liking.
Add to that the interactive and community aspects of the current data viz boom online, and then you can see how the Interwebs is doing for charts’n'graphs what it’s already done for music, video, news and most forms of textual information.
Aside: the article is mainly a profile of IBM’s Many Eyes dataviz app/community site. Which I keep meaning to check out more, but have yet to really dive in. Others in the same vein that I’ve heard tell of: Swivel, Track’n'graph.
And of course the NYT themselves are purveyors of fine interactive infographics. One of my fave examples of NYT brand infocandy:”The Ebb and Flow of Movies” – I revel in the swirly forms – all it needs is playback controls as well as the slider and it would be perfect.
Here’s a nice screen shot of the Ebb and Flow infographic in action – pretty stuff!