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Data: A Thing of Beauty

roadskater's picture

Here's one for the InlineCafe forum. I was trudging about the internet yesterday and came across something I know some of you will appreciate. It's a way cool site that shows various styles of "art" or at least i think some of these are art, that visualizes data. the site is called visual complexity...

http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/

This subject hit my mind long ago in love of maps and gps, then later in an interest in what ways we may be able to see things in data visually we might not see as easily in spreadsheets...ways of seeing stock market data for example...watching it like ripples on the water's surface.

Data vis has recently come up in conversations with tim, and in this case as relates to the burning of various forumations of fuel in diesel engines. I'm not up on this subject but I'll learn a bit if I keep skating with tim at Country Park and going for coca-colas afterward... Blake

Comments

eebee's picture

(RE) Data: A Thing of Beauty

At the risk of sounding stupid and unqualified to comment on this, I'll post my thoughts anyway...

That's very exciting and hopeful stuff for me, as I've only ever been able to solve math/critical thinking problems by drawing diagrams (but hey, it works)! If I follow math formulae for the sake of solving something quickly and jump over the comprehension process, I may get the problem solved but won't really feel like my brain grew, or that my level of comprehension had improved, as it would with visualization. Maybe abstract thinking is merely in-brain visualization, a miniscule step away from comprehension. Most of the time I interpret charts by pattern recognition, rather than processing the numbers. Maybe I'm missing the point entirely. Lucky you, you get to skate and get a brain workout, too!

timv's picture

Quite nifty! By way of

Quite nifty! By way of reference, I took this class this past semester, jointly taught at UNC and NC A&T. It was really more about scientific visualization, whereas I gather from a quick look that visualcomplexity would be classed as more as information visualization.

 

(Sci viz data usually comes from some kind of measurable space, even if you're projecting mass into distance or distance into time or whatever. OTOH info viz tends to be more about showing relationships which are often yes/no binary connections. My master's thesis was more about that kind of thing, but they aren't unrelated.)

 

Standard references for this sort of thing include Edward Tufte's three big books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, and Visual Explanations. Not cheap but interesting, and an interesting area generally. As you say, it's about taking advantage of our terrific (but often flawed) native powers of visual processing to discover patterns and relationships in data that aren't so apparent looking at statistics or tables of numbers.

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