Thursday 14 April 2011

Data for Humans

I am a great fan of Stephen Few.  Any of his books are worth reading for anyone who works in the data visualization space.

If you can't get a copy of one of his books right now, then 5 minutes reading his article, "Data Visualization for Human Perception", is a great introduction.  The commentaries by Ronald Rensink, Naomi Robbins and Robert Kosara are equally worth reading.

My belief is that the study of human perception to create great data visualization is fantastically interesting.  There is some fascinating research going on in the area of pre-attentive processing.

As computers get more powerful and the cognitive psychologists keep going with their ground-breaking research, we really are entering a golden age.  I look forward to being a part of it.

Even so, I have a feeling that we will still be using the humble bar chart for many years to come.  It is such an intuitive and simple visual data display method.  I wonder if the real breakthroughs will, in fact, be in enabling people to work more collaboratively with their data to discover new insights.

Stephen Redmond is CTO of CapricornVentis a QlikView Elite Partner

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