Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Many Eyes" at IBM

The Visual Communication lab at IBM has a new site whose purpose is to make it easier to create and share visualizations of information. Called “Many Eyes,” the site is located at and is the lab’s attempt to bring visualization to the masses.

On the site you can create visualizations of already uploaded data, or upload your own data and try some visualizations on it. But the ultimate goal of the site is for you to share your visualizations with others. In fact, the site states that “our goal is to ‘democratize’ visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis.” The hope of the group at IBM is that these visualizations will provoke “data conversations” around the data that is visualized.

Types of visualizations range from the familiar (bar and line graphs, tag clouds) to the more contemporary and occasionally startling such as: treemaps (described by the site as “a visualization of hierarchical structures”) --in this case a comparison of highway and city MPG for various types of vehicles:

and “wordles” (kind of like a tag cloud that maximizes screen space). Below is a wordle elicited from the Congressional Record from a particular date:

There is even a striking visualization called a “flower” which is a sphere-like graph composed of smaller circles that represent data items. In this case the flower is of uploads to Flickr broken out by the digital camera from which they were uploaded (this information is encoded in digital photographs):

Other examples of visualizations currently on the site include a map of the U.S showing where gas prices are highest, and a tag cloud of Shakespeare’s favorite words. There are already a number of visualization uploaded on the site that will appeal to almost any interest.Check it, enjoy, and remember to share your visualizations!

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