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Many Eyes: Democratizing Visualization
Data visualization has historically been accessible only to the elite in academia, business, and government. But in recent years web-based visualizations— ranging from political art projects to news stories— have reached audiences of millions. Unfortunately, while lay users can view many sophisticated visualizations, they have few ways to create them. In order to "democratize" visualization, we have built Many Eyes, a web site where people may upload their own data, create interactive visualizations, and carry on conversations. The goal is to foster a social style of data analysis in which visualizations serve not only as a discovery tool for individuals but also as a means to spur discussion and collaboration. We will provide an overview of Many Eyes, patterns of usage on the site, and what those patterns suggest about the future of visualization.
Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg are research scientists in IBM's Visual Communication Lab. Viégas is known for her pioneering work on depicting chat histories and email. Wattenberg's visualizations of the stock market and baby names are considered internet classics. Both Viégas and Wattenberg are also known for their visualization-based artwork, which has been exhibited in venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, London Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The two became a team in 2003 when they decided to visualize Wikipedia, leading to the "history flow" project that revealed the self-healing nature of the online encyclopedia. They are currently exploring the power of web-based visualization and the social forms of data analysis it enables.
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