Beautiful Visualization: The Book

Had the opportunity last fall to contribute a chapter to the recently released book “Beautiful Visualization” by Julie Steele and Noah Iliinsky. So for my chapter I did visualizations of two large datasets. One was of the Netflix Prize, which was an updated version of a visualization I did a couple of years back. And since I was working at AT&T Interactive R&D at the time, the other visualization I did was of the query logs for Yellowpages.com, a local search engine owned by AT&T.

Julie Steele was wonderful to work with as an editor. And O’Reilly is kind enough to allow the chapter authors to release their own chapters in digital form. So if your interested, you can download the chapter here.

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Network Visualization for Systems Biology

 roche3This is a quick look at the state-of-the-art of network visualization in systems biology. It’s an interesting topic on its own (and my day job at the moment), and also as it relates to the visualization of other types of networks, such as social networks (think Facebook). Systems biology is all about looking at proteins, pathogens, and more, within the contexts in which they interact. Naturally, then, the visualizations that tend to be particularly useful are those such as network visualizations that can provide macro understanding of the interactions.  Questions such visualizations help with include those of the form “if a drug affects protein X, what else will it affect?”

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5 Reasons Visualization Is Not More Prevalent

Why does it seem I have to look hard to find good data visualization examples?  Why do few tech companies devote resources to visualization (Google’s the obvious exception)?  Why are there relatively few job postings for visualization, with many of those there are requiring mainly graphic design skills and not data visualization skills?  I was thinking about this today and I came up with a few possible reasons, some based on perceptions, and others based on marketplace realities.

Reason #1: People Don’t Know What Data Visualization Is

benfry-monkey-small People don’t know what data visualization is.  Don’t believe me?  Read the Amazon.com reviews for the book Data Visualization by Ben Fry. They contain negative comments such as “One would expect a book with the title ‘Visualizing Data’ to be crammed with pictures”.  The issue seems be that too much of the book is devoted to data and the mapping of data properties to visual properties

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10 New York Times Visualizations

NYTimes.com has done a great job of moving beyond the static infographics found in newspapers.  10 favorites below…comment if you know of good ones I’ve missed.  Also, for further reading/viewing, see…

- Playgrounds for Data: Inspiration from NYTimes.com Interactives
- Infovis 2007 slides on Matthew Ericson’s blog…

 nytimesnamingnames

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See Conference (Information Visualization) to be Streamed Live in April

An information visualization conference, the See Conference, is being held in Wiesbaden, Germany, on April 19th.  Impressive speaker list.  The conference organizers plan to stream the speeches in real time via the conference website.

see1  
Ben Fry
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Zachary Lieberman
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Frank van Ham
see4
And comfortable seats!
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Visualizing Science and Technology in Wikipedia

sciwikivis-small If you didn’t see our original Wikipedia Activity Visualization, check it out here (there’s a detailed explanation, as well).  Also, there is a Google maps style zoomable version here.

This new version uses the same layout and images (well, slightly improved) as the original, but this time we tried to highlight activity in regions of Wikipedia that are predominately math or science or technology.

So we developed a program to classify Wikipedia articles as being one of these three categories (or none), based on the categories the article was assigned to and their positions in the Wikipedia category link network.

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An Interactive Visualization of the Netflix Prize Dataset

smallNetflixVizInteractive The visualization activated below (click the button) shows all 17,700 movies that are part of the Netflix Prize Competition. The movies are laid out such that simlar movies are close to one another. Similarity between two movies is computed based on whether users who like one like the other, or (and, really) those who dislike one dislike the other.  Alternatively, take a look at a colorful, static version.

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Wikipedia Page Similarities

I’m working on a visualization/map of Wikipedia pages. The map will layout pages close to one another if they are similar. So, in order to create such a map I need to compute the similarity of any two Wikipedia pages.

For my first attempt at this, I decided to go with a cocitation measure of similarity. So, two Wikipedia pages will be said to be similar if other Wikipedia pages that link to one usually link to the other.

However, the naive way to compute this, looking at every pair of pages, is far too inefficient given that there are 650,000 pages in the English Wikipedia, and 14.5 million pagelinks. So I’ve worked up a much more efficient algorithm. Here’s the psuedocode…I hope someone, somewhere out in cyberspace will find this useful. (It can, in fact, be used to compute co-citation similarities for any data represented as nodes and links)

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Visualization Google Tech Talks

15 Views of a Node Link Graph: An Information Visualization Portfolio by Tamara Munzner

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35 Visualizations

Geographical & Historical

WorldProcessor. Globes overlaid with information. Beautiful…must see!
Wikisky Google maps for the stars.
Flight Patterns Visualizations of FAA data.
TextArc: History of Science Beautiful.
2007 Calender. Brad Paley design.
31 days in Iraq. Visualization of deaths in Iraq. Depressing.
Tracing the Visitor’s Eye Flickr tags on a geospatial basemap.
Schreiner International Cables Map. Old world map of cables.
Napolean’s March. Made famous by Edward Tufte.

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