Visual Complexity

By Oleg
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Visualization is a technology to graphically represent data sets. If you will think about 2D and 3D CAD tools, they are visualizing sets of geometrical and other types of data about a product we design. This is very typical visualization for PLM world. In my view, it’s easier for people to understand information presented visually, compared to other ways like text, tables, etc.

I’m trying to explore new ways to represent information. In our modern world, the Internet, social networks and other new technological innovations create new information realities. To present them graphically is not a simple task. However, exploring these capabilities, and perhaps leveraging them in your application can be very cool and beneficial. I want to share with you a few examples of social data set representations. I hope you will find them interesting.

I’m sure you know Digg is an online social bookmarking tool that allows you to store links and share them in user communities. I think Digg’s Digg Labs is providing one of the best visualization tools for social bookmarking. Digg Pics is the latest tool that tracks the activity of images on the site with images that slide in from the left as people submit and digg them. Digg Arc displays stories, topics and containers wrapped around a sphere. Digg BigSpy places stories at the top of the screen. Digg Stack shows diggs in real time, with diggs falling from the top of the screen. Digg Swarm draws circles for stories as they’re dugg.

Another very interesting data visualization discovery I found is walk2web. I tried to discover Dassault Systémes web and found it very cool. You can see and explore much more information aggregated in very useful way.

This is only small set of possible visual representations. The power of visual representation is huge, and I see newcoming examples of possible representations almost every day. The following website Visual Complexity is an interesting opportunity to discover multiple ways to present data sets in a visual way. I encourage you to dig into this to find new ways to represent your data.

I’m looking forward to your comments and maybe your examples.

Best, Oleg

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2 responses to “Visual Complexity”

  1. Wojtek says:

    Nice article, thanks!

    There have been numerous studies about visual representations and the main points to take form this are:
    – our brain (and the world around us) is analog
    – information (indicator like) is usally more understandable in analog, limited view.

    Let’s take the example of speed in a car. Speed is limited (either by the car mechanics, the road rules or your bravery). It is easier for the brain to remember that the arrow of the dial speed indicator needs to be kinda on the left, around 10PM, military style than to have to process 63 km/h. In other words it is not the precision which counts most, it is the area on the half circle dial where the arrow should be.

    If you have indicators which change by colour, weight and maybe position then you are much more likely to see a change than when you have to browse through numbers. This is the flash of the obvious, I know, but I have seen so many pages full of numbers and graphs which tell me nothing that some flashing will not hurt :)

    For the history, there used to be a program which was parsing the security log on unix systems ans making sounds on some events. You then had a background which sounded like (B means beep)
    and after some time you were getting used to this soothing background while doing something completely different like browsing DS blogs instead of working)
    Should the pattern change (usually due to untypical activity) your brain was immediately going off cruise control mode and you were alerted. Not sure if this program still exists but it sure made my day a few times years ago.

  2. Oleg says:

    Hello Wojtek and thank you for your comments! I like your association with flashing on pages. Best, Oleg/

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