Visualizations to Understand Data

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I've been working recently with large amounts of text and data and have become more interested in using visualizations to help in understanding and making sense of what's there. There are some really creative people out there, so I thought I would collect a list of a few interesting approaches. Send me a message if you have any suggestions to add.

Associated Press HTML5 Timeline Reader

The Associated Press has created a way of presenting news in a visual format that allows readers to scroll through a timeline of top stories in a range of categories. It's all done with HTML 5.

NY Times List of Interactive Graphics

A very impressive collection of interactive visualizations used to help readers understand and get a better feel for their stories.

Nikki Graziano's Found Functions

Nikki is a math and photography student at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has a collection of photos where she works out the mathematical equation for a graph that fits the natural object in her picture. You might think this does not fit my goal of understanding information, but it's too cool not to list. Also, from a philosophical point of view and an attempt to understand nature, it fits the bill perfectly. Her home page is at

Jeff Heer Projects

Jeff Heer is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the HCI & Visualization Groups. He has several interesting projects and has created useful visualization frameworks such as Prefuse.

Ben Fry

He wrote Visualizing Data: Exploring and Explaining Data with the Processing Environment for O'Reilly, which I'm reading now. His site has several cool interactive graphics and other good information.

Edward Tufte

Edward Tufte is the guru of presenting data. I can recommend his seminars if you get the chance and his web site is loaded with good information.

Tableau Public

Tableau Software offers Tableau Public to let you create your own visualiztions. You provide the data and it generates the graphics for you. From teh video it looks like it couldn't be any simpler. With the public version, you must publish your data, but you can also buy their software to create your own proprietary visualizations.