Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Power of Visualization

One of the things that the development of computers has made possible is incredibly powerful visual images. It's almost impossible to find a movie made in the last 10-20 years that doesn't make some use of CGI (computer generated imagery.) Stick around through the credits of any recent realistic movie and you will see that somebody is being credited with computer imagery or enhancement. And we're not talking Beowulf or the latest Pixar flic but all normal, "realistic" movies.

But that's not the only kind of visualization that computers have made possible. A very powerful tool is data visualization. This involves taking data and devising a visual presentation of it. There need not be anything new about the data -- just the presentation.

The folks over at have developed just such a tool. The video below shows some of the kinds of things you can notice and learn just by visualizing data that used to be presented in pages of numbers with the occasional chart or three.

If you find this intriguing, head on over to GapMinder World where you can play with a large number of different datasets from the convenience of your own browser. Maybe you'll come up with some insights that others haven't seen yet.

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