Data & Network Visualization Tools – A Primer

How do you
see your data? In the form of tables, CSV files, text reports, graphs, charts
or may be something more interactive like geo-spatial maps. IMHO, Visualization
is quite important to making sense of data; if you want to really know what’s
in it, I’d want to see something more than a mental image. Therefore, for knowledge
discovery and data mining, having a visual interpretation is quite worthwhile. There
are different visualization tools and frameworks available for different
application domains for instance sports, social networks, product search, shopping,
news, movies, music, lexical & text analysis, internet & search
related, government, politics, geographic, demographics, business and stocks.
Network Visualization is a topic of interest in computing genre’s such as human
computer interaction, traffic analysis, financial algorithms etc.

I’ve been
looking into network visualization tools for some assignments when Jeff pointed
me out to dig labs tools; “stack” from
, this is what I’d call a true next generation data visualization apparatus.
It monitors the real time activity as the stories are being “dugg” and then add
them onto a “stack”. The stack elements flash if the same story gets “dugg”
again. This real-time interactive display of web activity is an excellent
example of how next generation web analytics tool would evolve.  A different approach has been taken by digg
labs tool swarm where news are
connected together in the form of a, well, swarm. These news are shown to get
connected together for brief periods of time via a network connection and the
nature of connectivity is shown as legend. Visually it looks almost like
cellular automata or game of life, quite interesting.

What’s in
visualized data for financial markets? Smart money market maps
show an exciting way of looking at market situation in a quick and effective
way. Different market sectors are divided into squares and then colored
according to their performance. Web 2.0 has a big market for visualization
tools. How the blogs are linked together? Who is looking at whose profile? How
are the people connected together and how do tags identify them? These are all
the new areas of interest for advertisers, data analysts and social network

Outfoxed (now lijit) has several good Visualization demos and their Basic architecture diagram is very
much like AJAX
infrastructure. ThinkMap’s
Visual Thesaurus
is a good example of semantic networks. Tracking the threat provides a network
navigator to show “visual link analysis and discovery of entities and
relationships in the database”
. An effective way of looking at different
entities connected together based on open source data. Jeff's professor at UCLA is working on visualization techniques of n-dimensional spaces in three dimensions so I'll add more to it as it comes.

University of Maryland has compiled a very good list of
visualization tools for different application domains here.

and Further Reading

Digg the story


One thought on “Data & Network Visualization Tools – A Primer

  1. Hi Adnan,

    Glad you like the Outfoxed visualization demo. Funny timing, we're just about to launch a version of that software that covers the whole blogosphere. Be sure to ping me in a few weeks and I can give you a pre-release look at it!


    Founder & CTO, Lijit Networks

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