Commercial visualization

March 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

| Gabriel |

Today Ad Age has a brief story on the use of data visualization techniques in marketing. Many of the things they describe/link are aesthetically appealing and entertaining and this is no small accomplishment. However if you go by Tufte’s standards they don’t accomplish the main purpose of visualization, which is to concisely convey large, complex, and often hyperplex data. In contrast, things like Social Explorer, Pajek graphs, the Herr et. al. network graph of the IMDB, and some of the projects at Microsoft Research are beautiful and informative. However I don’t want to be too gung ho about insisting that visualization meet the Tufte-test — people like ducks and if they see them in ads or music videos it may lead them to be more interested in more serious graphs. Certainly I’m all for anything that leads to popular attention and private sector employment opportunities for culture quants.

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