Your verification ID is: guDlT7MCuIOFFHSbB3jPFN5QLaQ Big Computing: Thoughts on Data Visualization

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thoughts on Data Visualization

Most of the Data Visualizations I look at on any given day are for entertainment not work. One of my favorite sites is Junk Charts. However, as the name implies junk charts deals with the not so good to the horrible in field of data visualization. Lately I have seen some really cool visualizations that I want to talk about and some reasons why I like them.

The first visualization I saw on Flowing Data is of the 11.3M deaths in Just Cause 2. This thing is just beautiful. It is also informative. It is easy to see where the hot kill zones are, and the places to avoid being. I was grateful they did not use my 20M deaths in Halo for this visualization

The second one is also from a Flowing Data a post of Airline routes. I had seen this type of graph done other ways before,  but they were never interesting to me. This one is. I like that the line width is the indicator, and it is visually stunning. Here is another example of basically the same data, but the results are disappointing. I think this is for two reasons. First the coloring adds nothing, and the perspective angle is bad.

I also saw on Jeffery Breen's blog a visualization of 20 years of Air Travel in 20 secs. I thought this one was cool for a couple of reasons. First, I love dynamic charts. I think they are a great way to illustrate the progression of change in data. Second, this visualization gives me the option of choosing the representation that works for me ( Bubble, Bar, Line). Data Visualization is all about helping the reader understand what is going on. What better way to do that then allowing the reader to pick the format that works best for them? On that topic you may have noticed that two of the three visualizations that I liked where in Black and White. I believe that is because I am pretty severely colorblind. Many of the more intricate visualizations use colors that I can not differentiate. So rather than providing me with insight those colorful presentations leave me lost and confused.

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