06 April 2008

Visualizing Data - book review

The doyen of data presentation is Edward Tufte, but even he has (so far) only dealt with the display of static information. Ben Fry's new book combines similar aesthetic principles with the technical knowledge of how such presentations can be made dynamically. He uses a simple programming environment and API called Processing (which he developed as part of his PhD research). This is a free downloadable open source program too based on Java (at Processing.org). He's an excellent communicator, and introduces his topics in gradual stages. The first few chapters are a gentle introduction to presenting data, and then gradually he presents more technically advanced approaches. What he proposes embraces a number of disciplines - statistics, data mining, graphic design, and information visualization - but he insists at the outset that the most important thing is to ask interesting questions. It's all very well having huge amounts of data, but you need to ask 'What is meaningful about it?'... Read more >>


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