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Communications of the ACM


Visualizations Make Big Data Meaningful

image from 'Clouds'

An image from "Clouds," a "computational documentary" by James George in collaboration with Jonathan Minard, which depicts people discussing creative use of code.

Credit: James George and Jonathan Minard

Until recently, a good spreadsheet or perhaps a pie chart might have been sufficient to get a firm grip on a dataset. However, making sense of big data requires more, and with our increasing inundation with data comes new and creative opportunities to build unique interfaces.

That is why, powered by new technologies such as touchscreens and giant LCD monitors, so-called "data artists" are experimenting with ways to make huge amounts of data comprehensible and accessible to a broader range of people, and then displaying their data visualizations inside venues like the corporate facilities of companies like Microsoft and Google.


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