I just came across Many-Eyes which is a really great online collaborative data visualization tool designed by the IBM Collaborative User Experience (CUE) Visualization Collaboration Lab.
You essentially contribute a dataset and use their online visualization tools to see what you’ve got. A colleague added these Canadian City datasets and it was truly very easy and helpfull to find different ways to tease out patterns and to assess the best way derive a story from them. The results provided us with a boundary object to facilitate our discussions on how we will design a report.
The options are great as you can create contemporary tag clouds, treemaps, network maps, flow lines, bubble charts, block histograms as well as your usual line graphs, pie charts and bar graphs. They even have some rudimentory choropleth mapping tools. You can view multiple variables and time series for a particular dataset which allows you to see change.
In our case, we will probably play with these tools and also excell graphs, present these to our graphic designers who will trace them into the look and feel of our report. The best part is to know that we can communicate effectively without robbing the visualization bank and by moving forward on more interesting ways to tell our stories.
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