Learning From Your Data – Part 2

In part one of this post I reviewed the details of Data Visualization and how it can help you learn for the data that your systems already collect using a simple example. That bring us to the next point:

What about information that’s more difficult to examine?

In his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte states that the “lack of quantitative skills of professional artists” is what makes creating a truly stunning and convincing data visualization difficult. This is why you don’t often see Data Visualizations as outputs of systems; it’s hard enough to design and create a Data Visualization to illustrate a specific point, let alone one that asks the viewer to draw their own conclusions.

Relationships between the individual data points in your system are everywhere. The simple ones, as we discussed, are easy enough to display. But if you can find ways to show the complex ones, you can make a real difference in a business. As an example, I’ll  reference another Visualization by Lee Byron, available on his site LeeByron.com. This one shows the relationship between words in a poem or limerick:


This Visualization shows the relationships between the phonemes and entire patterns of phonemes.

Byron shows a more complex example using a poem by Shel Silverstein:


These examples probably don’t relate to your business (unless you’re a poet), but they should illustrate how connections between data elements can have a massive effect on your ability to understand how and why something is working.

Where can I find examples?

Here are a few more examples that may show how this sort of Visualization can turn your data into an understandable tool to help you get ahead in your industry:

  • San Francisco – Home Prices
    • Great example of an interactive data visualization. Shows how multiple data visualizations working together can make data even more understandable.
  • Business Statistics 
    • Perfect example of displaying Progress % type KPIs
    • (Note: be sure to try the update button)
  • Cross Filter of Flight delays
    • Interactive example that shows how an data visualization can be used to hone in on the results/data you are looking to find. Think of data mining to determine what set of data fits a specific question that you have.
  • Slope graphs
    • Perfect example of displaying Change % type KPIs
  • Web Server Statistics 
    • Cool example for my industry
    • (Note: you need to use the +new button)
  • Crime in Portland
    • All around good example that shows lots of visualizations that display similar data (i.e. types of crime) by region.
This entry was posted in Software Development and tagged , , by Nick Gianadda. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nick Gianadda

Hello! I am a Development Manager at Algonquin Studios, I am responsible for managing new and ongoing projects at Algonquin Studios. I have been part of the development team at AS since early 2003 and have been managing software development projects since 2005. I've worked with internationally-recognized clients in a wide range of professions including experience with the Hospitality, Health Care, and Professional Services industries.

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