Picture This

The old adage that a picture is worth 1,000 words has found new applications in information.  Here’s Darlene Fichter speaking to an overflow audience about harnessing new visualization tools.  She noted that Web 2.0 has ushered in the DIY age: anyone can develop an application without needing to know any HTML.  Combining Web 2.0 tools with visualization is very powerful because conveying information visually can open our hearts, minds, and eyes to understanding.  Some examples include:

  • An article from Relevant Magazine dramatically highlights food costs for a family of 4 in various parts of the world.
  • Rice population demographics allows an instant visualization of various population statistics in a way that numbers could never do.
  • A website grapher can show you the structure of your site much better than traditional text-based site maps.
  • Newsmap is a visual depiction of news stories on various subjects allowing users to instantly see what’s important.

Caveat: there is lots of free data available on the web, but manipulating and using it may require significant advanced knowledge.  But new tools are appearing that will help alleviate this problem.  Social sites for manipulating data like Swivel or ManyEyes from IBM’s Alphaworks will allow new kinds of analysis.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today  and CIL 2008 Blog Coordinator


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