November 24, 2013
I have watched time shrink in the last 50 years. I recall having time in my first job. I did not feel pressured to do the rush rush thing. Now, when I accept an engagement, the work has to be done in double time in half the time, maybe faster.
As a result, reports have to be short. Graphics have to point out one key point. Presentations have to be six or eight PowerPoint slides. Big decisions are made in a heartbeat. The go go years were the slow slow years.
I took a look at Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards. I think I saw the future of search. Users want information presented with Hollywood style visuals. Does it matter that the visualizations are incomprehensible? I don’t think so. Style takes precedence over clarity. I can visualize senior managers telling their colleagues, “I want graphics like these Kantar winners in my next PowerPoint.”
Here’s a winning visual.
The confusion of clarity with visual zing is interesting. As search vendors struggle to find a formula that generates top line revenue growth and yields net profits, are visualizations like the Kantar winners the future of search? I think the answer may be, “Absolutely.”
Vendors are not sure what they are selling. Whether it is BA Insight’s effort to get LinkedIn search group participants to explain the key attributes of search or other vendors slapping on buzzwords to activate a sales magnet, search is confused, lost maybe. Coveo is search, customer support and more. MarkLogic is XML data management, search, and business intelligence. Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft search does everything one would want in the way of information access. Open source ElasticSearch, LucidWorks, and Searchdaimon are signaling a turn into the path that proprietary Verity blazed in 1988. Vendors do everything in an all out effort to close deals. Visualization may be the secret ingredient that gives search focus, purpose, and money.
Why not skip requiring a user to read, analyze, and synthesize? Boring. Why not present a predigested special effect? Exciting. Everyone will be happier.
Decisions making seems to be in a crisis. Pictures instead of works may improve senior managers’ batting averages.
Relying on incomprehensible visuals to communicate will be more fun and prove to be more lucrative. I assume audiences will applaud, cheer, and stomp their feet. Conferences can sell popcorn and soft drinks to accompany the talks.
Go snappy graphics. Will I understand them at a glance. Nope.
Stephen E Arnold, November 24, 2013
November 8, 2013
Data Science is a hot industry. Even though data scientists have been around for decades, but it is only the proliferation of new devices and data streams that have brought the career to the Internet spotlight. Data Science is more than monitoring reports about data or even the big data revolution. Data Science is an intricate and interesting science and to understand it better check out the Visual.ly infographic labeled: “Data Science: More Than Mining.”
The graphic explains that data science has exploded:
“Proliferation of sensors, mobile and social trends provide explosive growth of new types of data. Data scientists are creating the tools that can be used to interpret and help translate the streams of information into innovative new products. Social media platforms such as Facebook depend on data science to create innovative, interactive features that encourage users to get interested and stay that way.”
The basic of data science are data mining, statistics, interpretation, and leveraging. The data scientist interacts with the data by asking questions about how to apply the information in new ways and better the process. Data scientists are hardly people off the street, they require the skills of hacker, mathematician, and an artist. Mixing all those together goes makes a data scientist a very diverse person and able to see how to apply the data in new, unknown ways. It is amazing how data science has shaped society from behind the current since 1790.
Whitney Grace, November 08, 2013
November 3, 2013
A post at Ushahidi’s blog titled, “With Data, Never Underestimate the Power of a Pretty Picture” reminds us how important the arrangement of data into a palatable format can be. The write-up begins:
“There is power in data. Data can tell important stories, from which politicians are corrupt to which corporations are breaking the law. However, like any good story its power is dependent on being compelling to audiences — being a page-turner.”
Writer Chris R. Albon illustrates the point with two tables. The first presents real data in a bare-bones format that can only be read by those with some basic data science training. I, for one, cannot make heads or tails of it. The second is a polished presentation of gibberish; it really looks quite nice. Albon explains:
“The simple fact is that if both the table and image were placed on the desks of policymakers, journalists, business leaders, and politicians, it would undoubtedly be the image that interested them — that enticed them to examine it and kept their attention all the way through. The image’s ability to be compelling means that at the end of the day, it is going have a much stronger chance of having a real impact.”
Of course, the piece concludes by noting that Ushahidi is the place to go for all your data-visualization needs. (There are others out there.) The self-promotion, however, does not undercut the message: readers are much more likely to pay attention to, and understand, data if it is presented in a well-designed graphic.
Cynthia Murrell, November 03, 2013
November 1, 2013
Silicon Angle recently reported on a new free solution for processing streaming data in the article “Bottlenose Visualizes Twitter Firehouse Trends with Sonar Solo”.
According to the article, the startup, among other things, uses technology from Lexalytics and Nerve Center to help users unwrap social data by offering the visibility in personal data expected by a growing number of today’s customers.
The article states:
“Nova Spivack, the co-founder and CEO of Bottlenose, noted that ‘we wanted everyone to experience the power of Sonar’s real-time trend intelligence visualization, without restricting it to our large enterprise customers. Now, anyone with internet access can search for anything from their favorite celebrities to breaking news and current events, and everything in between, for a real-time view of what’s trending in the collective consciousness.’”
The Bottlenose offers its customers a customizable product that engages their audience. This is something that is very necessary for startups to succeed in today’s competitive market.
Jasmine Ashton, November 01, 2013
October 24, 2013
Considering that Google has a stake in Recorded Future, which has visualization capabilities, this is an interesting development: The Sacramento Bee shares the press release, “Tableau Software Partners with Google to Visualize Big Data at Gartner IT Symposium.” The partnership mixes Tableau’s analytics with the Google Cloud Platform. Recently at Gartner‘s convention in Orlando, attendees were given a demonstration of the project. The write-up tells us:
“Tableau and Google created a series of dashboards to visualize enormous volumes of real-time sensory data gathered at Google I/O 2013, Google’s developers’ conference. Data measuring multiple environmental variables, such as room temperature and volume, was analyzed in Tableau and presented to attendees at the Gartner event. With Tableau’s visual analytics, Gartner attendees could see that from the data created, I/O conference managers could adjust the experience and gain insights in real time, like re-routing air-conditioning to optimize power and cooling when rooms got too warm.”
The project will also be demonstrated at Gartner’s upcoming events around the world; see the article for dates and places (though I’ll go ahead and tell you that Orlando was the only location in North America.) We wonder—is this Gartner/Tableau/Google trio a marketing play, or a significant step forward in data visualization?
Founded in 2003 and located in Seattle, Washington, Tableau Software grew from a project begun at Stanford University. Their priority is to help ordinary people use data to solve problems quickly and easily. The company is fully invested in their own philosophy; not only does Tableau use their own products, but they also rely heavily on data analysis for their business decisions.
Cynthia Murrell, October 24, 2013
October 6, 2013
What is visual data mining? I know that data mining involves searching through data with a computer program in search of specific information. I am guessing that visual data mining includes the same aspect except it presents the data using various patterns. Am I right? Am I dead wrong? I do not know, but I do know the way to find the answer is to read Visual Data Mining-Theoyr by Arturas Mazeika, Michael H. Bohlen, and Simeoin Simoff.
Here is the item description from Amazon:
“The importance of visual data mining, as a strong sub-discipline of data mining, had already been recognized in the beginning of the decade. In 2005 a panel of renowned individuals met to address the shortcomings and drawbacks of the current state of visual information processing. The need for a systematic and methodological development of visual analytics was detected. This book aims at addressing this need. Through a collection of 21 contributions selected from more than 46 submissions, it offers a systematic presentation of the state of the art in the field. The volume is structured in three parts on theory and methodologies, techniques, and tools and applications.”
This book usually retails for a whooping $99.00 or $63.91 with the Amazon discount. It is still a hefty chunk of change for a 163 page book, which is why we are pleased to say if you are a member of ISBN Book Funder or OnlineBooks.com then it is available to you for free. Other books are free for members. If that does not appeal to you check our your local academic library.
Whitney Grace, October 06, 2013
September 5, 2013
If you ever wanted to visualize data sets containing up to one million lines of code, the impossible just became a reality without a commercial license. PRWeb has the good news: “Tableau Software Extends Tableau Public To 1 Million Rows Of Data.” Tableau Software is a data specialization company that helps its users share, analyze, and visualize their data. The company has an open source end portal Tableau Public that also allows its users to share their content on blogs and personal Web sites. Users demanded to have the line limit increased and Tableau Software added the one million limit to its public end.
“ ‘Since Tableau Public launched in 2010, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of data sets available on the web for public consumption,” said Tableau Public Product Marketing Manager Ben Jones. “It’s becoming more common for these data sets to exceed one hundred thousand records, so this change allows users of our software to share interactive visualizations of these larger data sets with their readers.’ ”
Some organizations that have big data sets out in the public are: airline on-time statistics and delay causes, US Medicare payments to hospitals, and historical weather station data recorded hourly. As the Internet grows the amount of space needed will grow proportionally and perhaps even larger. Wonder when they will release a trillion lines.
Whitney Grace, September 05, 2013
September 4, 2013
An article posted on July 25, 2013 on Market Watch was titled Dassault Systemes Announces Groundbreaking User Experience of its 3DExperience Platform and a New Cloud Portfolio. The French company revealed V6 Release 2014, offering a compact course-plotting interface that straddles the 3DExperience platform on the premise as well as on the cloud. As usual, the developments are ‘groundbreaking’. The article explains,
“This release brings a disruptive new user experience and the value of a business application at every single level of the company, transforming the world of IT platforms,” said Monica Menghini, Executive Vice President, Industry & Marketing, Dassault Systemes. “Our new navigational user interface is so intuitive that we wanted to give it a name: ‘IFWE Compass,’ because in business it is always a question of considering ‘what if’ scenarios to find the right path.”
The IFWE Compass provides an environment for business leaders to visualize their ideas on every level of development and collaborate from a shared cloud. The perks of the new system include Enovia Program Management and Engineering BOM Management, Delmia Assembly Planning and Milling Machining, Catia Concept Creative Design and Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual. The promise is of a holistic approach to information is the aim of the 3DExperience.
Chelsea Kerwin, September 04, 2013
September 1, 2013
The Justice League’s headquarters, either the Hall of Justice or the Watch Tower, has state of the art equipment to track bad guys and their criminal activities. We puny mortals might actually have a tool to put Batman’s own deductive skills to shame with big data, says The News Factor in the article, “Watch Out, Terrorists: Big Data Is On The Case.” Big data is nothing new, we just finally have the technology to aggregate the data and follow patterns using data mining and data visualization.
The Institute for the Study of Violent Groups is searching through ten years of data about suspected groups and individuals involved with terrorism and other crimes. The Institute is discovering patterns and information that was never possible before. Microsoft’s security researchers are up to their eyeballs in data on a daily basis that they analyze for cyber attacks. Microsoft recently allocated more resources to develop better network analytical tools.
The article says that while these organizations’ efforts are praiseworthy, the only way to truly slow cyber crime is to place a filter over the entire Internet. Here comes the company plug:
“That’s where new data-visualization technology, from vendors such as Tableau and Tibco Software, hold potential for making a big difference over time. These tools enable rank-and-file employees to creatively correlate information and assist in spotting, and stopping, cybercriminals.”
Big data’s superpowers are limited to isolated areas and where it has been deployed. Its major weakness is the entire Internet. Again, not the end all answer.
Whitney Grace, September 01, 2013
August 10, 2013
I am not much of an interface person. You can see from the design of Beyond Search. There is a feature which we update once a week or so. There are daily summaries of articles I find interesting and wish to keep in a database. I use the research in my for-fee articles and other writings like my upcoming story for Homeland Security Today about “Cadillac tail fins.” I will explain the metaphor when the story runs next week (August 12 or 13, 2013).
I read a review of Information Dashboard Design, second edition. If you are into user experience or user interfaces, you will want to read the book. I will definitely check it out.
I just wanted to point out that the image from the blog is an example of a “solution” by the book’s author, Stephen Few.
Image source: http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/?p=1466
I find these types of extremely dense, complicated outputs interesting, not because I use them.
Check out my approach to tabular data. I stick with print outs, usually of chunks of Excel spreadsheets or short write ups with bullets and data in short tables like this one:
From the forthcoming monograph Google 20/20: A Prescription for New Revenue, which discusses the trajectory of Google Glass. The author is the Harrod’s Creek recluse, Stephen E Arnold.
If I need to show a point, I use a graphic like a stop light or maybe a thermometer.
The reason for my utter simplicity of approach is that I find the dense, busy, modern UX/UI presentations darned hard to figure out. If a person is under time pressure or does not know exactly what he/she is looking at, the likelihood of dismissing or misinterpreting data strikes me as high. Under pressure, absolute clarity and brevity are required. Fluff is okay in a personal blog, but not when money or lives are on the line.
Now in many vendors’ eyes, training is available online. Even better, a three minute YouTube video will explain “everything” the user needs to know. (Frankly categorical affirmatives about “users” is a questionable assertion.) The idea that an analyst is standing by to help the end user has disappeared like five cent Mars bars.
Fancy interfaces do not replace a subject matter expert, an analyst, and a professional working through what the data will permit and how best to present answers to specific questions. Some interfaces are pretty much guaranteed to increase risk and go unused.