When should we use which type of graph?

March 11, 2014

Beyond bar charts and pie charts, how can we visualize data? Which is the best type of graph or information visualization technique?
It depends on the data and the purpose: here’s some general categories and tools:



Visual Guide to Startups, Founders and Venture Capitalists

January 16, 2014

On the visual.ly website you can find an innovative information visualization about startups, founders and venture capitalists. As the developers state: “Startups are positioned within the main interface on a horizontal interactive timeline, based on the year they were founded. Details about each company are provided below the timeline.”

Check it out at: http://visual.ly/vizbox/startup-universe/

startup universe

Economic complexity visualized in a treemap

February 10, 2013

The observatory of Economic complexity is a website created by MIT Media lab to display visually the economic complexity of countries.

You can compare infovis of exports of different countries to grasp the differences: my favourite is the treemap, a powerful information visualization technique invented by Ben Schneiderman and refined by his collaborators through the years.

Let’s see Switzerland:


Quite surprisingly the major export of Switzerland is gold! Followed by chemicals, medicaments and “human and animal blood”! Who would have guessed so?

And now let’s compare it to India:


India is also exporting precious jewellery. with a qucick look you can compare colours and the size of the rectangles to have an overview of the differnt sectors the two coutries specialize in. See the interactive version on the MIT website, and you can also trace change in time of coutries’ economic complexity.

IV conference

May 16, 2011

We are on the cover of the International Conference of Information Visualization 2011! My picture is right in the middle of the program booklet 🙂

The presentation of our paper “The Effectiveness of Knowledge Visualization for Organizational Communication in Europe and India” will take place Thursday 14th at 15:30 at the SOAS – The Brunei Gallery, London.

7 Classic Foundational Vis Papers

February 9, 2011

In the post “7 Classic Foundational Vis Papers You Might not Want to Publicly Confess you Don’t Know” the blog author, Enrico Bertini, provides a list of foundation papers of information visualization, with a summary and comments for each paper. In his words it’s a ” collection of classics”: very useful and with a personal touch of insightful comments.

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Visualizing insight: Reactive Business Intelligence book

February 1, 2011

An interesting description of visualization for business intelligence is provided in a forthcoming book by Roberto Battiti and Mauro Brunato. You can see online the pre-print version of the book “Reactive Business Intelligence. From Data to Models to Insight” , published by the Università di Trento (Italy) in December 2010.

The first chapters give a description of various information visualization techniques, from simple histograms to parallel coordinates and motion. In the second half of the book the authors explain advanced techniques for data visualization and modeling to gain business insight. To visualize the abstract concepts explained, they use visualizatios generated with the software program they developed, called Grapheur, a data mining and interactive visualization tool. A free evaluation copy is available for download.

The book is filled of nice quotes and comics as well: one of my favorites is the visual explanation of the dendrogram on page 49, and the definition of data mining on page 83: “Data Mining, noun 1. Torturing the data until it confesses. . . and if you torture it long enough, you can get it to confess to anything.” 😀

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Knowledge Visualization in Journalism

December 9, 2010

Nice video on the use of knowledge visualization, information visualization and info-graphics in the context of journalism. The first 10 minutes give a general introduction to the power of (conceptual) visualizations.

Glad to see people whom I know 🙂

Data Visualization tools

December 17, 2009

A recent post on O’Reily media RIA’s blog portraits  a useful collection of 28 data visualization software. It seems that different industries are employing diverse tools for the same goal of visualizing rich data, from very fancy like anychart and axiis, to powerful applications supporting millions of data-points like chronoscope.

Source: axiis - Inside RIA O'Reilly

Information visualization on BBC

December 6, 2009

source: mcCandless via BBC

The BBC magazine recently featured an article about how information visualization is becoming a serious business to overcome information overload and help readers understand information more easily. The article shows beautiful infovis examples by David McCandless, author of the book “Information is Beautiful” which will be published in February by Collins in UK.

InfoVis conference 2009 in Atlantic City

October 26, 2009

This year I had the pleasure to be accepted as a presenter at the InfoVis conference, part of the VisWeek, a IEEE conference, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I was pleased to take part to a conference with high quality papers and impeccable organization. The panels and workshops were also very good!

There was a particularly interesting workshop on Collaborative Visualization, organized by Petra Isenberg. It was mainly focus on co-located collaborative information visualization, considering the issues of multi-users interacting at the same time on shared surfaces, such as touch screens and walls (single touch and multi-touch). From my point of view the workshop was very interesting because it has addressed not only technical issues, but also the social side involved in collaboration. Secondly, it helped to spread the interest in collaborative visualization, a topic I’m very interested in, but is thus far not been explored much. The large attendance at the workshop (I suppose around 100 people, from my personal headcount) reassured and motivated me that there is rising interest in the topic.

The conference altogether was very technical, I think I have presented one of the very few papers that didn’t have an algorithm! In my talk I presented the results of my experiment on collaborative knowledge visualization (pdf, presentation, video)

However some of the workshops and panels were much more open to non-technical issues related to Info Vis.
I found very interesting also the panel on Changing the World with Visualization, where it was discussed how to diffuse the research findings to the world, such as in business, industries, education, media, etc.

Next year the conference will be in Salt Lake City, Utha (submission deadline: march 2010).

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