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August 28, 2007

Data Visualization


My buddy Laura Fitton pointed me to a terrific explanation of visualization techniques. The article is called “Data Visualization: Modern Approaches,” and it’s in Smashing Magazine.

The techniques and uses examined are mindmaps, displaying news, displaying data, displaying connections, displaying websites, articles & resources, and tools & services. This picture is an example from Time that the article used.

In ten years of watching entrepreneurs pitch their companies, I can recall maybe two companies using any of these techniques. Every other one either (a) used no graphics at all; (b) used a 2 x 2 matrix and guess what: they’re always in the upper right corner; or (c) used a matrix and guess what: they’re always the column with the most checked-off stuff.

If you like Smashing’s explanation of visualization techniques, you’ll probably also enjoy “45 Excellent Blog Designs.”


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» Data Visualization For Open-Minds from FiberGeneration
Thanks to Master Guy Kawazaki (and the Magic of the Blogosphere), I discovered the recently published article in Smashing Magazine : Data Visualization: Modern Approaches. For all of you manipulating data to be presented to end-users, customers, or man... [Read More]

» Interesting New Ways to Present Data from Probstisms
My day job requires me to wear many different hats depending on the projects that are active at any point in time. One of my main responsibilities is report design and development using the latest and greatest version of Business Objects. Basically, ... [Read More]


Thank you for the pointer. It's one of those areas that seems have tremendous potential, but we're still using WIMP - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WIMP_(computing) - interfaces!

Here's a fun blog you might like: data visualization & visual design - information aesthetics

Guy, one very large problem with data visualization is the quality of the data being visualized. So many people treat nice, pretty, well formated data as fact. I have looked at lots of data from many companies over the years, including manufacturing part data, product design data, financial data, customer data, etc. and you know what? 40% 50% of the data is flat out wrong! Yet people are making business decisions on this data every day. Structuring data to ensure high quality is absolutely essential. The alternative scares me to death.

Great find.

Scientists also have a hard time presenting their data in a compelling visual way. I've sat through many presentations where table after mind-numbing table was presented. Part of the problem is lack of good examples to learn from, something this article goes a long way toward addressing.

Hi Guy, did you notice that you are in this web trend map ? :
Just at the right corner of the 2.0's Apple ?

Thanks Guy for this wonderful article. Its always interesting to read your posts. Your articles i must say are always on target.

Keep it going Guy.

The best data visialization I've seen has been ICCARUS from scouta.com - a video recommendations site. The Scouta team created a 3D visulaization of its recommendations data based on the relationships between all its members and video and audio they rated highly.
It can locate individual members in the Scouta database and visulaize their relationship to other members, groups they belong to videos and audio.
There is a screencast that doesn't quite do it jutice, but is worth looking at - http://blog.scouta.com/2007/08/17/iccarus-screencast/
or you can read more about it -

1) Thanks for the great article
2) Happy bday!

This is great stuff. I have a database and would love to find an interesting and valuable way to communicate some of the information visually.

Here's a great blog that covers interesting data visualization topics:

Great post!

I love data visualization. I use a concept I call a "Mission Map" to get across the ideas behind my startup, SmoothSpan. A Mission Map is just a tag cloud that you've designed to show which big memes your company or products are focused around.

More on my blog here:


Hi from Spain,

So twitters and all those micronanoblog didn'kill designers. This other site is my favourite, the name says it all http://infosthetics.com/

I'm a truefan of your workshow . Hope to see you one day in spain.

It's all good to see you respect the font size as said in the 10/20/30

That's very cool.

I remember seeing shoemoney do something cool with Ebay Ads stuff using google maps, too.

Dead on target as always.

We have started looking at techniques such as this to gain insight into our prospect market. Little graphs and bar charts just don't cut it for really exploring your data.

Visualizations such as these, especially combined with good GIS systems, can make all the difference in figuring out what is going on and where you should be targeting your efforts.

Great stuff, if you are into data visualization you must check out the work of Edward Tufte at http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/. His one day course is brilliant, I attended in San Francisco in July and it was worth it. If I have the chance of pitching you one day, I promise I’ll have a handout, Tufte style for you.

Thank you!

Guy : thanks for the heads up. As Lance wrote : awesome - maybe I should add : jaw-dropping ;-)
The applications are almost infinite, at least for open-minded people.
For instance, since I discovered NewsMap [http://www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/] a couple of months ago, I'm thinking of using it in the Telecoms Network Monitoring sector...

Absolutely awesome stuff, not only for presentation, but to really allow folks to see what you are talking about while allowing you to understand the bigger picture so you know what you are talking about. Good call.

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