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Sunday
Oct242010

« What's the cure for infoglut? (Part 2) - Data Visualization Techniques? »

One of my recent blog posts "What's the cure for infoglut?" talked about how to manage your information flows allowing you to still make good business decisions even in the presence of too much information.

Whilst doing some blog research I came across this TED video from David McCandles on using data visualisation techniques to overcome dataglut to allow you to make business decisions even in the presence of too much data.

This video is very powerful in the way it displays and allows the data to tell a story and is a must watch video. It does start off a little slow, but it is worth sticking with it for the full 21 mins as it highlights some astonishing (and quite worrying) facts.

WARNING! - Do not read on until you have watched the above video

Before I continue to talk about these data visualisation techniques, I have to get something off my chest with regards to the video. My experience as a Financial Analyst, and as a Business Analyst, has taught me that facts can be manipulated to support the message you want to get across (yes, I know some of you will be flabbergasted at this last statement!).

When David alludes to the reduction of carbon emissions because of the grounding of aircraft due to the volcanic ash cloud over Europe, he is only focusing on one statistical data set. There are a number of indirect contributing data sets that will cause a knock on effect of not be able to fly, and these also need to be taken into consideration (e.g. some passengers will now choose to drive to their destination, thereby producing carbon emissions via their vehicle etc...).

However the data visualisation techniques he uses do provide some relativity and context to data and this got me thinking.

What if you could do the same with information flows?

Information is just bits of data right? If there was a way that all my information flows I have access to across all different social platforms could be pulled together and represented in a visual form it could save me a lot of time.

As I mentioned in my previous infoglut post, I don't want to lose any of my information flows I just need to manage them better, and maybe data visualization techniques is the answer.

So is this actually possible? Honestly? I don't know but I am going to continue doing research into this subject matter which will undoubtedly result in a third blog post on infoglut as I found out more.

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or ideas on how information flows can be represented in a visual way, or how you are reducing infoglut in general, please let me know via the comments.

Reader Comments (4)

Great video - what is it that they say - a picture tells a thousand words. Just not sure how this can be practically applied to everyday life, though I suspect it lies with the creators of information to be more creative in the presentation of their information.

However, skewing of information to favourably represent your position will be a problem that will never go away and I just wonder if this visual method makes it easier or harder to spot such biases.

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeeky Mummy

Great find. Brilliant video. I agree with your sentiments that "facts can be manipulated to support the message you want to get across". What is the saying. There's lies, damned lies and then there's statistics.

Earlier this year I attended a fantastic training course about personal leadership and effectiveness. One of the things I took away was the importance of visually representing what you are trying to explain something to people. I was so struck by this that I've made it one of my development areas for this year.

I've been doing some research and came across this site, which looks really interesting - http://www.davegrayinfo.com/. This site also led me to an online Visual Thinking School - http://www.squidoo.com/communicationnation - which I plan to investigate further.

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrank Bradley

Interesting post and video.

I posted a blog looking at visualisation awhile back http://enablealignment.blogspot.com/2010/02/visualisation-and-mash-ups-with-social.html and since then I have been wondering how information relationships and flows could be made more useful in business analysis. Recently I have been looking at social network analysis and visualisation around these networks and I have been wondering if these techniques could be used to analyse information flows more effectively? Not sure but something to investigate.

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBL Banning

Thanks BB. I popped over to your blog post and left a comment there. Love the quotes, and definitely come down on the side of George Bernard Shaw ""If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

Definitely worth investigating more and if you come to any conclusions feel free to share them here.

November 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterDavid Christopher

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