article in The Economist observed, we are at the point of an "industrial revolution of data," with vast amounts of digital information being created, stored and analyzed. The rise of "big data" has led in turn to an increased demand for tools to both analyze and visualize the information. This bodes well for startups tackling the field.As a recent
One new service is Flowing Media, the new company of Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, a consultancy focused on data visualization services.
Prior to founding Flowing Media, Viégas and Wattenberg worked for IBM's Visual Communications Lab. Their Many Eyes project was one of the first to put visualization tools in the hands of the public, with the goal of democratizing visualization and the accompanying social analysis.
According to Viégas and Wattenberg, visualization is a powerful analytical tool for experts and non-experts. "It's an excellent way to attract non-geeks to complex data and can spark conversation." They note that a good visualization can easily go viral on the Web, touching millions of people.
As "big data" becomes more accessible, visualization services like Flowing Media are sure to flourish. After all, as Viégas and Wattenberg note, "Today many facets of life are made of nothing but data, from flirting on Facebook to photos on Flickr."
Image credits: Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, top: Wired Magazine - "A visualization of thousands of Wikipedia edits that were made by a single software bot. Each color corresponds to a different page." and bottom: Flickr Flow, the colors in photos uploaded to Flickr.