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Data Visualization on the Web
August 7, 2007 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Data Visualization: Modern Approaches is a Smashing Magazine article examining a variety of increasingly popular or novel information visualization employed on modern websites.
posted by nthdegx (18 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh! i'm in there, which surprised me a bit - i just hit lucky one day while learning svg. incidentally the map i made (it's in section 3) seems to not include russia which, for a map of arms spending, is a little unfortunate.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:15 PM on August 7, 2007


that was a really cool compendium. i especially like the last.fm 'what i'm listening to over time' river looking graph.
posted by Mach5 at 3:21 PM on August 7, 2007


Direct link to andrew cooke's military spending visualization.
posted by nthdegx at 3:26 PM on August 7, 2007


if you like these, see also http://infosthetics.com/ (which i think signal posted way back). i suspect nearly all have been linked there at some point.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2007


A bit more specific, maybe, but the Juice Analytics blog is also worth a read in this area.
posted by nthdegx at 3:41 PM on August 7, 2007


Gah, and Information Design Watch. I need to reorganize my feed subscriptions. Ironic.
posted by nthdegx at 3:49 PM on August 7, 2007


Gngn. Call me a spoilsport, but I'm not at all convinced that massive link collections like this are "the best of the Web". The screenshots are pretty but the quality of the analysis - "Apparently, web-sites are connected as they’ve never been before." - is pretty terrible.

The better written descriptions ("In Rosling’s hands, global trends — life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates - become clear, intuitive and even playful.") were clearly copied and pasted from elsewhere.
posted by simonw at 3:50 PM on August 7, 2007


They forgot to include Antarcti.ca/Map.net, the short-lived attempt to plot web activity to a map of the South Pole. Anyone interested in earlier efforts at Infocartography may want to read Mapping Websites: Digital Media Design or Web Cartography: Developments and Prospects.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:52 PM on August 7, 2007


Though I favorited this one (cause some of the stuff really is quite interesting), I did find a lot of the visualizations to be merely prettified, 3-D'ed, antialiased, atmospheric versions of old-school visualizations. They look awesome. But the looks don't really add anything to the knowledge being presented. Perhaps it makes the data more captivating? I guess that's a plus.

Overall, though...thought provoking. I've done more than my share of infographics and some of these I definitely will study closer.

Thanks for the post!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:58 PM on August 7, 2007


<much2snarky>
Oooooh, da culuz!

And now, to show your understanding, for any viz shown:
Write a sensible question that can be answered from the viz.

This shows how little I get it. The visualizations communicate directly with the left-of-the-left brain, (or is it the right-of-the-right brain), resulting in instant total karmarific comprehensification of an all-inclusive totality.
</much2snarky>
posted by hexatron at 4:19 PM on August 7, 2007


Please provide your answers CLEARLY with a 3 button mouse.

A. Using the example of The MegaPenny Project as an analogy, how can:

fractal geometry
kinetic typography (recalling our earlier discussion of Saul Bass' work)
photo manipulation
spectral waveforms
timelines

be used to correlate patterns of online activity with Uniform Resource Locators [URLs]?

This question is worth 5 points.

posted by Smart Dalek at 4:35 PM on August 7, 2007


Jesus, did you all get up on the wrong side of bed this morning?

Call me a spoilsport, but I'm not at all convinced that massive link collections like this are "the best of the Web"

Metafilter is effectively one massive link collection. Some of it is to your taste, some of it isn't.

This shows how little I get it. The visualizations communicate directly with the left-of-the-left brain, (or is it the right-of-the-right brain), resulting in instant total karmarific comprehensification of an all-inclusive totality.

I agree with you that just because we can visualise complex data, that doesn't mean we can understand it. But not all of that site is devoted to such displays. How about some of the other links in there: debunking third-world myths and the UK history timeline? In themselves they'd probably make worthy FPPs.

Thank you for the post, nthdegx, it's made my morning.
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:00 PM on August 7, 2007


Mm, some of these are great choices, others not so much. The problem is that we're seeing a growing rift between visualization-as-art and visualization-as-a-path-to-insight. Both can be wonderful things, but the really amazing stuff (which frequently pops up on the Infosthetics blog) manages to bridge the gap.

Some of the things in this list have a high gee-whiz factor and a depressingly low utility. Which is fine, but then IMO they should be held to the higher standard of art, not just "WOO I CAN USE THE FLICKR API!"

Mach5, if you liked Lee Byron's last.fm visualization, you should check out the stuff people have been making from the matrix chart he built while interning with us at Many Eyes.
posted by xthlc at 5:18 PM on August 7, 2007


Good lord, what a train wreck.
posted by gimonca at 7:30 PM on August 7, 2007


Also, although I whine, good post. It's nice to see such an expansive list in one place. I would caution people trying to learn about visualization to look at all of these projects (yes, including mine, we're not perfect) with a critical eye.

I'm sad they didn't mention Stephen Few's fairly harsh visualization blog Visual Business Intelligence or the similarly critical Junk Charts. But then maybe that's because most of what they post are bad visualizations. :)
posted by xthlc at 8:22 PM on August 7, 2007


Is Google ever going to release Trendalyzer?
posted by lukemeister at 8:29 PM on August 7, 2007


I agree that some of these are largely fluff, but a few of the stand-outs were really, really cool. The Shape of Song visualizer, for instance, once you know how it works, allows for some amazing insights into musical structure. The heat-map of activity is really useful. andrew cooke's graph showing the military-spending-orb of the US dominating roughly a third of the graph itself is striking.
posted by invitapriore at 9:41 PM on August 7, 2007


It's easy to mistake beauty of form for real understanding of facts. "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit."
posted by the jam at 9:57 PM on August 7, 2007


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