IBM on Skin Care

January 19, 2015

Watson has been going to town in different industries, putting to use its massive artificial brain. It has been working in the medical field interpreting electronic medical record data. According to Open Health News, IBM has used its technology in other medical ways: “IBM Research Scientists Investigate Use Of Cognitive Computing-Based Visual Analytics For Skin Cancer Image Analysis.”

IBM partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering to use cognitive computing to analyze dermatological images to help doctors identify cancerous states. The goal is to help doctors detect cancer earlier. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, but diagnostics expertise varies. It takes experience to be able to detect cancer, but cognitive computing might take out some of the guess work.

Using cognitive visual capabilities being developed at IBM, computers can be trained to identify specific patterns in images by gaining experience and knowledge through analysis of large collections of educational research data, and performing finely detailed measurements that would otherwise be too large and laborious for a doctor to perform. Such examples of finely detailed measurements include the objective quantification of visual features, such as color distributions, texture patterns, shape, and edge information.”

IBM is already a leader in visual analytics and the new skin cancer project has a 97% sensitivity and 95% specificity rate in preliminary tests. It translates to cognitive computing being accurate.

Could the cognitive computing be applied to identifying other cancer types?

Whitney Grace, January 19, 2015
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Searchblox Announces New Visualization Method for Search Results

December 29, 2014

The brief article on Searchblox titled A Visualization Is Worth a Thousand Search Results relates the addition of visualization to the Elasticsearch-based system, Searchblox. Searchblox is an open source enterprise content search engine founded in 2003. Its customers range over 25 countries and include Harley Davidson, Capital One Investments, Kellog, and the US Department of Justice, to name just a few. The article discusses the latest advancement of visualization with a note on how to use the new plugin and how it works. The article states,

“Create a visualization from your search results using our new AngularJS database plugin and discover unique insights from your data. The AngularJS plugin integrated the raw/d3js javacsript library to create visualizations on the fly for your analysis, content marketing and infographic needs. After you setup your collections, simply install the plugin and configure the required filters and database columns to display.

Once the data grid is configured you can see the search results in a grid format.”

The article stipulates that the plugin is best suited for data from csv files and databases. The ability to see your results as a graphic rather than a list is certainly promising, especially for people who are visual learners. There are several nifty chart options available, for all of which the user is able to state the fields for their data.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 29, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Centrifuge Analytics v3 Promises Better Understanding of Big Data Through Visualization

December 23, 2014

The article on WMC Action News 5 titled Centrifuge Analytics v3 is Now Available- Large Scale Data Discovery Never Looked Better promotes the availability of Centrifuge Analytics v3, a product that enables users to see the results of their data analysis like never before. This intuitive, efficient tool helps users dig deeper into the meaning of their data. Centrifuge Systems has gained a reputation in data discovery software, particularly in the fields of cyber security, counter-terrorism, homeland defense, and financial crimes analysis among others. Chief Executive Officer Simita Bose is quoted in the article,

“Centrifuge exists to help customers with critical missions, from detecting cyber threats to uncovering healthcare fraud…Centrifuge Analytics v3 is an incredibly innovative product that represents a breakthrough for big data discovery.” “Big data is here to stay and is quickly becoming the raw material of business,” says Stan Dushko, Chief Product Officer at Centrifuge Systems. “Centrifuge Analytics v3 allows users to answer the root cause and effect questions to help them take the right actions.”

The article also lists several of the perks of Centrifuge Analytics v3, including that it is easy to deploy in multiple settings from a laptop to the cloud. It also offers powerful visuals in a fully integrated background that is easy for users to explore, and even add to if source data is complete. This may be an answer for companies who have all the big data they need, but don’t know what it means.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 23, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

More Metadata: Not Needed Metadata

November 21, 2014

I find the metadata hoo hah fascinating. Indexing has been around a long time. If one wants to dig into the complexities of metadata, you may find the table from helpful:


Mid tier consulting firms often do not use the products or systems their “experts” recommend. Consultants in indexing do create elaborate diagrams that make my eyes glaze over.

Some organizations generate metadata without considering what is required. As a result, outputs from the systems can present mind boggling complex options to the user. A report displaying multiple layers  of metadata can be difficult to understand.

My thought is that before giving the green light to promiscuous metadata generation, some analysis and planning may be useful. The time lost trying to figure out which metadata is relevant to a particular issue can be critical.

But consultants and vendors are indeed impressed with flashy graphics. Too many times no one has a clue what the graphics are trying to communicate. The worst offenders are companies that sell visual sizzle to senior managers. The goal is a gasp from the audience when the Hollywood style visualizations are presented. Pass the popcorn. Skip the understanding.

Stephen E Arnold, November 21, 2014

Presto the Software Formerly Known as JackBe

October 30, 2014

The information page titled What You Can Do With: Presto on Software AG Products provides an overview of the data-combining software formerly known as JackBe until its acquisition by Software AG. JackBe is now Presto! (Exclamation point optional.) Information flow since March 2014 has been modest. The article offers an overview and some of the capabilities of the software, such as in-memory analytics and visualization and data mashing. The article states,

“Presto combines data from any source for data visualizations. Accessing the original data—directly from data warehouses, news feeds, social media, existing BI systems, streaming big data, even Excel spreadsheets—lets business users respond to changing conditions as they happen. Presto’s “point-click-connect” assembly tool, Wires, makes it easy to bring together and manipulate data from multiple existing systems into meaningful data visualizations. Simple, powerful data mashing means IT and power users can create new apps and dashboards in hours—even minutes…”

Software AG began in 1969 in Germany and in 2013 acquired JackBe. According to the Company History page, the deal was actually awarded the title of Strategic M&A deal of the Year by the Association for Corporate Growth. Other acquisitions include Apama Complex Event Processing Platform, alfabet AG, and Longjump.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 30, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Visualizing Data: Often Baffling

October 29, 2014

I read “72 Hours of #Gamergate.” I don’t follow the high buck world of video games. The write up contains oodles of data. Some of the information is in the form of bar charts. Other information is presented in words, spreadsheets, and graphics. I am okay with the bar charts. These have labels and numbers on the x and y axes. The visualization show below baffles me:


The image adds graphic impact. I have been in briefings in which senior executives and military brass have presented similar visualizations.

I suppose clarity is less important than sizzle. Analytics vendors, are you listening? I think not if this graphic is any indication of the way data are presented.

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2014

Building Lovely Data Visualizations

June 25, 2014

Data is no longer just facts, figures, and black and white graphs. Data visualizations are becoming an increasingly important way that data (and even Big Data) is demonstrated and communicated. A few data visualization solutions are making big waves, and Visage is one on the rise. It is highlighted in the FastCompany article, “A Tool For Building Beautiful Data Visualizations.”

The article begins:

Visage, a newly launched platform, provides custom templates for graphics. There are myriad tools on the market that do this (for a gander at 30 of them, check out this list), but Visage is the latest, and it’s gaining traction with designers at Mashable, MSNBC, and A&E. That’s due in part to Visage’s offerings, which are designed to be more flexible, and more personalized, than other services.”

More and more companies are working on ways to help organizations decipher and make sense of Big Data. But what good is the information if it cannot be effectively communicated? This is where data visualizations come in – helping to communicate complex data through clean visuals.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 25, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Visage Dubbed the Latest in Visualization Software

June 11, 2014

The big data boom has made it vital for many companies to quickly and easily translate data points into pretty pictures. Now, FastCompany reports on the latest tool to help with that in, “A Tool for Building Beautiful Data Visualizations.” Of course, there are many programs that supply custom graphics templates for data visualization, and writer Margaret Rhodes links to an article that describes 30 of them. What makes this latest tool, called Visage, different enough to entice designers at prominent sites like Mashable, MSNBC, and A&E? It’s all about the flexibility, especially in branding. Rhodes explains:

That on-brand bit is where Visage shines. “There’s a spectrum of how people define ‘on brand,'” [Visage co-founder Jake] Burkett tells Co.Design. “What’s sufficient for most people are fonts and color palettes.” Visage’s tool has what Burkett calls “canned logos and color palettes,” but they’ll also produce templates in customized color selections–free of charge. “Give us your brand guidelines; it just takes us a little time,” Burkett says.

For taller orders, the Visage team will build a more sophisticated set of tools to channel a company’s visual language. They’ll be available only for the company in question, and even be made as open-source templates, so designers on staff can tweak them on the go. “Everything is designed to be dynamic,” Burkett says.

The Visage platform was launched in 2012 by Column Five Media. Founded in 2009, the design and branding company is based in Newport Beach, California, and maintains an office in Brooklyn, New York City. They also happen to be hiring as of this writing.

Cynthia Murrell, June 11, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Using Real Data to Mislead

May 14, 2014

Viewers of graphs, beware! Data visualization has been around for a very long time, but it has become ubiquitous since the onset of Big Data. Now, the Heap Data Blog warns us to pay closer attention in, “How to Lie with Data Visualization.” Illustrating his explanation with clear examples, writer Ravi Parikh outlines three common ways a graphic can be manipulated to present a picture that actually contradicts the data used to build it. The first is the truncated Y-axis. Parikh writes:

“One of the easiest ways to misrepresent your data is by messing with the y-axis of a bar graph, line graph, or scatter plot. In most cases, the y-axis ranges from 0 to a maximum value that encompasses the range of the data. However, sometimes we change the range to better highlight the differences. Taken to an extreme, this technique can make differences in data seem much larger than they are.”

The example here presents two charts on rising interest rates. On the first, the Y-axis ranges from 3.140% to 3.154% — a narrow range that makes the rise from 2008 to 2012 look quite dramatic. However, on the next chart the rise seems nigh non-existent; this one presents a more relevant span of 0.00% to 3.50% on the Y-axis.

Another method of misrepresentation is to present numbers, particularly revenue, cumulatively instead of from year-to-year or quarter-to-quarter. Parikh notes that Apple’s iPhone sales graph from last September is a prominent example of this tactic.

Finally, one can mislead one’s audience by violating conventions. The real-world example here presents a pie chart in which the slices add up to 193%. The network that created it had to know that cursory viewers would pay more attention to the bright colors than to the numbers. The write-up observes:

“The three slices of the pie don’t add up to 100%. The survey presumably allowed for multiple responses, in which case a bar chart would be more appropriate. Instead, we get the impression that each of the three candidates have about a third of the support, which isn’t the case.”

See the article for more examples, but the upshot is clear. Parikh concludes:

“Be careful when designing visualizations, and be extra careful when interpreting graphs created by others. We’ve covered three common techniques, but it’s just the surface of how people use data visualization to mislead.”

Cynthia Murrell, May 14, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

New York Public Library Posts Maps

April 5, 2014

The New York Public Library has a massive collection of beautiful maps, but instead of keeping them locked in an archive Motherboard reports, “The New York Public Library Releases 20,000 Beautiful High Resolution Maps.”

All of the 20,000 maps are available via open access. What is even more amazing is that the NYPL decided to release the maps under the Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. If you are unfamiliar with a Creative Commons license, it means that users are free to download content and do whatever they want with it.

“Combined with its existing historical GIS program, the NYPL wants its users to engage with the maps, and allows them to warp (fitting together based on corresponding anchor points) and overlay the historic maps with modern geoweb services like Google and Open Street Map. Users can export WMS, KML files, and high-quality TIFFs. The historic map appears side by side with the modern maps, and users are invited to mark corresponding points on each, so you can overlay the historic map over the current day’s.”

Google Maps using old maps to explore the world of the past. It is yet another amazing use of modern technology and makes one wonder what people of yesterday would have thought about exploring their world via a small box.

Whitney Grace, April 5, 2014

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