Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

I’d Paint Three of Those Murals for Some of That Data (Visualization)

with 6 comments

I like pretty things. I like pretty things even more when they’re communicating complex information effectively. Did I mention I’m in library school?

I find myself reading more blogs on data visualization these days, and spending more time oogling pretty pictures with Tufte on my mind. I even went so far as to momentarily think about taking another course in Statistics – thankfully that madness passed quickly. I thought I’d list out some of the blogs I’m following, some tools I think are sexy, and then ask you, dear reader, to leave comments on your own fav visualization blogs/tools/rants.

(Oh – and the quick disclaimer – I know there are a lot of terms for what I am here lumping as “data visualization” – see the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. I’ve been trained to think of data as broadly writ – “alleged evidence,” not just quantitative/stacks of numbers – hence my use of the DV term. Please, do not make me get all Allen Renear on you…I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again!)

Planes or Volcano (corrected) from Information is Beautiful

Planes or Volcano (corrected) from Information is Beautiful

Data Visualization (related) blogs and other sites:

And some tools – I’d particularly love your resources in this area, especially those not related to a single platform (i.e. Digg, Twitter,, Delicious, et al):

  • Crazy Egg heatmaps – a tool for creating heatmaps, useful for web design (and re-design). This one’s not free, but it’s pretty low-cost. If you’re sure you know how to interpret the data, it can be a powerful way to use data in design.
  • Many Eyes – well-known tool, developed by IBM.
  • Quintura – a sort of semi-visual search engine, that gives you tag-cloud-like visualizations on the left, traditional search results on the right. I find it clunky, frankly, but visualization-y nonetheless.
  • Wordle – a way to make tag/word clouds. Perhaps a simple tool, but I like to think of it as personal visual concordance generator.

And you? Do you like data visualization too? What neat resources do you have to give me?

(P.S. Yes, I was listening to Check Your Head as I wrote this blog post; so the title is indeed the Professor Booty sample from Wild Style. I never say no to inspiration, even if that inspiration is from 1983.)


Written by nicolibrarian

April 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm

6 Responses

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  1. have you seen this one?

    i love great graphics, but am a completely clueless designer. looking forward to checking out the links!


    April 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    • OH, I love that, Lynn! Thanks! Along with the Onion’s excellent work, infographics are far and away the funniest visualizations I know…


      April 22, 2010 at 8:13 pm

  2. Oh a little Beasties in the blog. Thanks!


    April 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    • I’m always happy to throw some esoteric references in to keep in interesting. Thanks for all your replies, Txoof!


      April 27, 2010 at 8:03 pm

  3. Hey,

    I’m a fellow GSLIS student who just stumbled upon your blog. And I also love data visualization!
    Here’s some more DV blogs: Data Pointed | Transparencies | Weather Sealed
    And there are a couple more lay-user tools out there, like Gapminder World and Google’s government data set visualizations, Public Data Explorer
    Many Eyes is, by far, the best freely available tool, given the variety of data sets it can handle. I wish I had the time to learn Processing because that seems to be the way to do it.

    Other really cool things: the two “Data Flow: Visualization Information in Graphic Design” books are mindblowingly beautiful, though a lot of the work is in German and/or tiny font. They’re available via I-Share…though I have both checked out right now, so not really.



    September 10, 2010 at 12:11 am

  4. Thanks, Eric – loved your “ha ha I have both books” comment. Not like I have time to read anything but school at the moment. Hopefully you’ll return them someday. Say, do you work the GSLIS helpdesk? If so, say hi to Jill + team for me. ❤


    September 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm

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