Are you the “finder” of lost things in your house: Lego pieces, earrings, cell phones, etc.? If so, you will especially appreciate a compelling new white paper called Visualizing Change: An Innovation in Time-Series Analysis
by Stephen Few, an expert in data visualization.
Few is Principal of consulting firm Perceptual Edge and spends his days helping businesses communicate quantitative information effectively. He makes many excellent points in his white paper, among them that there is great value in using your eyes for analysis. A “finder” can quickly scan a whole room, seeking the specific shape, color and size of the lost object. Similarly, with huge quantities of data displayed visually, you can perceive facts, trends and changes that would not be apparent in a spreadsheet of calculations.
Seeing is connected with comprehension and thinking, Few says, which is why when we understand something we often say, “I see.” He urges people and organizations to take advantage of this intimate link between seeing and thinking for data analysis and presentation. But that’s not going to happen to the fullest extent unless you can visually display and interactively explore data on a computer, he says.
Few uses crime data from 1973 to 1999 to illustrate – using JMP software from SAS – why some graphs are ineffective for showing patterns and relationships, why animation is particularly effective for demonstrating different kinds of change over time, and how to boost data visualization through the use of color and size.
In addition to the white paper, you can check out an interactive companion that illustrates some of the concepts in the paper and watch a Webcast with Few. Best of all, you can download them all for free.