Data Visualization

After years of working with large data, analytics and business intelligence at Yahoo, I have learned that often that hardest part of data analysis is the last one – the one where results of the analysis are presented/delivered to an audience.

As the analyst you have spent the last few days or weeks living with this data and somehow expect many aspects of this data to be as obvious to your audience as they are to you. This is hardly ever the case and is the reason why your final report or presentation needs to be particularly good. Often the results being presented are complex and contain multiple dimensions which can be hard to explain with words alone.

What if instead you could use a medium that allowed your audience to come to conclusions about this data on their own ? It is certainly alright to point them in the right direction, but why not allow them the joy of discovering these insights on their own ?

Interactive data visualizations might just be the answer. BI tools like MicroStrategy and Tableau help with this tremendously.

I was curious about constructing visualizations in the right way and was hence drawn to the course I am taking this quarter – https://graphics.stanford.edu/wikis/cs448b-10-fall.

Additionally, I am also working in an inter-disciplinary research team at west.stanford.edu (with Geoff McGhee) and building visualizations to tell stories with them. See http://datajournalism.stanford.edu for a wonderful hour-long video from Geoff about journalism in the age of data.

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