Data Visualization – Pivot

“Visual data analysis blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in even the most complex visual presentations.” – 2010 Horizon Report

The 2010 Horizon Report, released in January, identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry within the next five years. One of the emerging technologies the report describes is data visualization. It states that visual data analysis is “an emerging field; it is a blend of statistics, data mining, and visualization, that promises to make it possible for anyone to sift through, display, and understand complex concepts and relationships.”

The time to mainstream adoption of this technology is predicted to be 4 to 5 years.

Whilst Gapminder has been around for some time, Microsoft Live Labs has entered the data visualization field with Pivot. Microsoft Live Labs Director Gary Flake describes it as an experiment in data visualization that allows people to make more sense of the growing amount of information that surrounds them. Pivot basically revolves around “Collections.” Collections involve large groups of similar items on the Internet, so we can begin viewing the relationships between individual pieces of information in a new way. By visualizing hidden patterns, Pivot enables users to discover new insights while interacting with thousands of things at once.

Pivot is still relatively new and as such, the number of “collections” available is quite small. But with that being said, it allows you to do some really nice visual data analysis. Very impressed by what I have seen so far – even though it is currently limited in its use.

Watch Gary Flake at TED2010 – Is Pivot a turning point for web exploration?