The Information Architecture Institute
A conference on designing
complex information spaces of all kinds.
New York City, October 4 and 5, 2007

Visualization: Fernanda Viegas from IBM

Post HistoryFernanda Viegas began by putting visualization in context: something I was thrilled to hear. She explained that visualization is often seen as an expert to expert interaction: lab coated data-junkies making complex data visualizations for other similarly addicted minds. Her goal, or at least the goals of some of her projects, is to humanize visualization and use it as a tool to help people understand the data in their lives. Rock on.

First up was PostHistory, a tool for e-mail users to see their e-mail usage in a new way. She discovered that, despite her efforts to protect privacy, people were thrilled to share what they saw and learned with each other (seeding her above stated goals for visualization).

Next up was a walkthrough of Martin Wattenberg’s NameVoyager, of Internet fame (I’d seen this a dozen times, but so impressed by its consumer styled appeal that I didn’t associate it with “data visualization”) exploring some of the questions raised by the emerging community around the data (takeaway: you’re doing something right when you get normal people to voluntarily spend their free time playing with data).

She ended the talk showing some of the new work she’s doing at IBM, soon to be up and running at The Visual Communication lab website. Of particular note were new ways to help communities form around data, including ways to thumbnail, reference and bookmark particular views, making it easier to share the particular customized visualizations people find when exploring on their own.

-Scott Berkun

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