is a visualization expert with more than a decade's experience working in both industry and academia.
Visualization as I see it.
As a software developer I often find the need to dive into the DOM of a Web page, and I usually use the Firebug or Web Developer plug-ins for Firefox to do this. So, I was intrigued when I came across Tilt, a Firefox plug-in that visualizes a Web page in 3D. The video clip below shows Tilt in action.
I installed the Tilt plug-in and took it for a test flight. I’ll be sticking with Firebug and Web Developer for the time being; Tilt represents a cool example of WebGL used for 3D visualization but it’s more of developer’s toy than a serious development tool.
Number Picture is a new web-site whose aim is to provide a tool to enable people to visualize their data. In this regard it is similar to previous social visualization efforts such as IBM’s Many Eyes, Tableau Public and the (now defunct) Swivel. Where Number Picture differs considerably from these other tools is that the crowd-sourcing emphasis is on the visualization designs rather than the data – that is, users of the site are encouraged to contribute new visualization designs, called templates, with which to visualize data.
Currently, there are more than 30 templates. Hopefully, this number will grow as designers contribute new templates to the site. Templates are written using the Processing.js toolkit. Instructions are provided to get you started.
Above is shown a visualization I created using Number Picture with data sourced from ONE The Data Report 2011. The same data visualized using a different template is shown below.
There’s a long-running debate in the visualization community regarding the value of aesthetics to visualization. For some, aesthetics or “eye candy” is considered a triumph of style over substance or form over function that serves only to confound understanding. At the other extreme is the camp who believe that “ugly” visualizations are valueless. Much of this opinion has little evidential support but that might be about to change.
A group of visualization researchers is conducting a user study to assess the impact of aesthetics on visualization. The more people who participate the stronger study’s conclustions will be. The study end soon, so if you haven’t already done so, please participate.