High quality data represented in helpful and manipulatable ways is making humans smarter and better able to understand and act more quickly and effectively.
It might seem like there is too much information available but in fact most of it is low resolution.
Web 2.0 tools are evolving to facilitate easy execution of the principles graphical display expert Edward Tufte has been exhorting for years:
- Information should be high resolution, presenting the most appropriate data possible in the most readable format possible.
- The efficient presentation of information should allow viewers to maximize their reasoning about the information and minimize their time understanding the interface.
- People should be able to discover the information and think about it on their own, not be directed in totalitarian ways with the data.
- Charts and images should be seamlessly embedded in text.
- Clarification should occur by ADDING information, in the same easy to read high resolution way.
1. IBM's Many Eyes
Many Eyes is a free data visualization platform where data sets can be uploaded (exclusively for the public domain) and visualizations generated in a variety of formats including tag clouds, word trees, histograms, bar charts, block histograms and bubble charts.
For example, it took a few minutes to analyze the main discussion topics in the 17,619 messages of the last eight years of activity on the SL4 Artificial Intelligence email list.
Swivel is a San Francisco-based startup also offering free data visualization services. The platform is less robust than Many Eyes, but the site appears to have over 1 million charts.
3. Google Charts API
The Google Charts API allows the seamless embedding of graphical data anywhere in an html page. Google Charts API and other web widgets have been developed to construct Edward Tufte's famous sparklines, and this functionality is being continually improved.
4. Second Life 3D Real-time Data Streaming Tool
MS Futures Group has built a real-time on-demand 3D stock chart application for Second Life. The application is available open source and could be adapted for the 3D graphical display of any quantitative data.