Monday, August 11, 2008

oh data

Part of me wants to launch into a fictitious rant about Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, a childhood favorite in the late 80s, early 90s, but I'll save us both the nostalgic embarrassment.

If you haven't seen it yet at Contagious, read this now: Ways of Seeing, The art of data by digital ninjas Faris Yakob and Noah Brier. These two smart guys put data visualization into inspirational laymen's terms. What exactly is data visualization? Words are simply visual representations of information - pictures of sounds. I thought this was beautiful when I read it. An inspiring way to think about what they refer to as the art of eroding the gap between how something looks and what it means.

Basically, they give it to us straight: we are a generation drowning in data. Here, Here! Oy Oy! How many of you are currently struggling with balancing your professional network with your social one; aggregating newsfeeds but never finding the time to read them all; trying to figure out how to Twitter but...can't; wishing you could email everyone back at once but know that mass emails aren't the personalization you know people deserve these days. AHHHH, what are we supposed to do? The Internet has made us all stir-crazy, psycho-paths who need the latest "fix" of information and we can't focus until we get it, and even then, focusing (and being productive) is difficult.

The problem identified by Faris & Noah is that data, like many things, is worthless without the tools to interpret it. Ok, now I've got to get on my soapbox: Attention agencies without planning departments, planners ARE your tools to decipher the data, the information, the culture, the research, etc. :)

Down now. Check out some of these super cool sites to get your data visualization fix now:

and there are more here at Mashable. Enjoy!


Kyle Studstill said...

The "We Feel Fine" tool is an excellent find! I feel very much in love.

Allow me to share with you a personal favorite of mine that is quite similar: The Dumpster.

It operates on pretty much the same principle, but with words like "dumped" instead of "feel" for insights into teen relationships and how they end. An excellent resource when looking for a glance into the teen world.

faris said...

hey there - thanks!

erin said...

Faris - no, thank you! I am jet-set on developing new models for visualizing data in terms of presenting quant to clients, etc. now. Gone are the days where I'm "satisfied" with a pie-chart or line graph made in Excel: boring! Thanks for the inspiration.

Kyle - We Feel Fine is definitely neato. :) Looking at The Dumpster...I'm not sure what to "feel." The bouncy dots are so active; I wish breakups weren't quite as energetic or frequent. Interesting that The Dumpster seeks to capture this negative, but also maybe part of the reason it didn't get much more PR. How did you hear about it?