New Podcast on Data Visualization

Jock Mackinlay, Tableau’s Director of Visual Analysis, just did a podcast for VizThink. Jock knows even more about data visualization than you would expect of someone with the title Director of Visual Analysis.

After all, this is the guy who helped coin the term ‘information visualization’ and was researching the topic at Xerox PARC during some of its most productive years. He also gives killer presentations, with plenty of sweet vizes that look like eye candy but are really tasty and nutritious snacks of information.

Jock’ll be speaking at VizThink this year. If you haven’t heard him speak, you should go. VizThink is a very cool conference where viz-lovers and vizgeeks gather to talk about subjects as wide-ranging as "How to Use Comics to Communicate Ideas" and "This Island Earth: Visualizing Place."

Jock’s podcast (cleverly titled (“"Podcast #39") offers a great intro to data visualization. Highlights:

  • How the evolution of databases made visual analysis possible.
  • Why data is important: "part of the financial problem we’re having now is because people took their eye off the data."
  • A picture of the Xerox Star from 1981.
  • How visual analysis can be used to collaborate, not just analyze.

Jock makes the point that humans don’t consume endless tables of data well. Luckily we do have the power of self-awareness, and we know (some of) our weaknesses. So we can learn a bit about visual data analysis to make us better humans.

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