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The Tech for Social Change Baltimore Meetup Message Board Meeting Logistics, Details, and Notes › 2012 January - Bryan Connor - Data Visualization

2012 January - Bryan Connor - Data Visualization

Kate B.
Baltimore, MD
Post #: 16
Bryan Connor, a freelance user interface and data visualization designer who has had his worked featured by GOOD, talked with us about information visualization.

Data visualization can be used for discovery or communication. Discovery lets you get a feel for the data, while communication tells a story. In both cases, form, data, and message need to work together.

Simple visualizations can be powerful. Don't complicate the data and make it harder to understand.

Bryan walked through several types of charts: bar charts, stacked bar charts, histograms, line graphs, area graphs, horizon graphs, pie charts, enclosure diagrams, treemaps, scatter plots, bubble charts, qualitative matrices, network graphs, sankey diagrams, gantt charts, choropleth maps, graduated symbol maps, and cartograms. You can see examples of these charts in the presentation. (If you need help choosing the correct chart, use this diagram.)

A few tips:
  • Be careful with pie charts. They're best with two to four sections.
  • Think about where a viewer's eyes go first. Is that the most important part of the page? (Hint: It should be.)
  • Make your message clear and concise.
  • Have a clear call to action.

Baltimore has made city data available to the public through OpenBaltimore. You can see the data in use in Spot Agent: Citation Statistics for 2011 and Baltimore Vacants.

Data Tools
  • Mr Data Converter - Converts your Excel data into web-friendly formats, like HTML, JSON and XML.
  • Google Refine - Cleans up data, transforms it from one format into another, and extends it with web services.
  • Many Eyes - Stores data and creates visualizations.
  • Tableau Public - Stores data and creates visualizations.

Tools and Libraries
  • d3 - A small JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data.
  • Protovis - A JavaScript library that creates custom views of data.
  • Raphael - A small JavaScript library that simplifies your work with vector graphics on the web.
  • Google Charts - Displays live data on your site.
  • Flare - An ActionScript library for creating visualizations that run in the Adobe Flash Player.
  • Processing - An open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions.
  • R - A free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.

Books and Blogs
Slides from this presentation are available online.
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