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Adventures in data with David Pountney.

by Nextness published February 20, 2012 posted in Data

Everyone’s talking about Big Data - today’s guest post is from someone who lives and breathes it. David Pountney (@David Pountney) oversees Data and Analytics for DT Digital and OgilvyOne in Melbourne: here he’s collected ten data visualisation methods and his favourite examples of each.

1. Venn diagram: How to be happy in business.

Whilst Venn diagrams can be used to show numeric overlap between multiple datasets, they’re most commonly used to show logical relationships between ideas or concepts. What strategy presentation would be complete without one? The above is an all time favourite from Bud Caddell.

2. Map: Proportion of time that american network and cable news organisations dedicated to news stories by country in Feb 2007.

Taken for the Alisa Miller’s TED talk from May 2008, this abstract view of the world adjusts land mass according to level of news coverage in the US. No surprises that America and Iraq dominate, but it demonstrates the power of the media in shaping our knowledge of the world around us. I’d love to see a similar representation for Australia.

3. Pie Chart: World energy consumed.

Microsoft Excel by Banksy? When pie charts move from the accountant’s office and onto the streets, then maybe the data revolution really has begun.

4. Line Chart: Apple quarterly revenue by product segment.

Sometimes a simple line chart says it all. This chart (make sure you click through to play with it) goes someway to explaining why Apple is now worth more than the combined value of Google, Goldman Sachs, GM, Ford, Starbucks and Boeing ($425 billion). Oh and also bigger than this lot.

5. Bubble Chart: The relationship between life expectancy and personal income for the last two hundred years.

Hans Rosling demonstrates the incredible correlation between health and wealth and the enormous gaps that still exists between countries today. Bubble charts kick arse in their ability to show up to 5 dimensions on one chart (X axis,Y axis, Bubble Size, Colour and Motion) but it’s the sixth dimension of presentation style that really makes this analysis hit home.

6. Tree Map: Australian stock market source.

I’ll admit it, I bloody love Tree Maps. They are predominantly used to demonstrate the current landscape of the stock market where size of the square represents market cap and colour represents change in stock value. They allow you to get a really good feel for the size and performance or the market across categories and individual companies in a single glance, no small achievement. Other great uses include IBM’s Tree Map of the CIA’s World Fact Book and the News Map‘s aggregation of Google News. At DT Digital we use them to assess the size of the search landscape and corresponding SEO performance.

7. Mash Up: London travel times and house prices.

A great example of how combining two data sources can really help decision making. Adjust the house price and travel time sliders to see areas of London that meet your criteria. This example dates back to 2007 but seems like such an obvious value add utility for a real estate website.

8. Area Chart: Baby name wizard.

Another example of how interaction helps data come to life. The baby name wizard shows changes in popularity of baby names in the US over the last 130 years. Primarily designed to help parents-to-be narrow down potential names, it also provides an interesting insight into the impact of popular (e.g. Whitney) and unpopular (e.g. Adolf) culture.

9. Scatter Plot: Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus visualised in tableau.

Tableau is the Jeremy Lin of the data visualisation world… arriving seemingly out of nowhere to become an overnight phenemenon with cult-like status. Whilst this example doesn’t really demonstrate its dashboarding and diverse charting capabilities, it does show how it can comfortably plot large data sets in the name of closing the gap between art and science.

10. Context: Avinash Kaushik.

Sometimes it’s not the visual representation of data that’s most important, rather the context in which it’s presented. Avinash Kaushik literally wrote the book on web analytics demonstrates context perfectly in this tweet.

David Pountney leads the Data and Analytics discipline at DTDigital and OgilvyOne in Melbourne, overseeing web analytics, SEO, data planning and customer segmentation. Follow him on Twitter: @davidpountney.


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