Mathew Lowry

Every now and then I see a neat new ways for displaying complex information simply and my inner child comes out. It really delights me that there are software and design geniuses out there, working together to provide visualisation tools for mere plebs like me to use. If I ever get the time.

So, following on from a previous post (visualising complexity), here are a couple more visualisation tools I’ve tagged on delicious recently (or browse all of them), all spotted thanks to ReadWriteWeb – next to Peter Jackson, the best thing to come out of New Zealand since Phar Lap.


This French site:

“offers us a new way to explore and contextualize the web. In what looks like a mind map structure, users collect “pearls” (links to articles, videos and web pages) and drag and drop them to form a body of knowledge that folds and expands upon itself”


Here’s the obligatory video, but this one’s worth it:

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The mind boggles when I think of how a team of people could collaborate visually to map websites relevant to a particular topic, so I was originally only going to blog about this after having had a play. I’ve already set up an account and received emails from other users sharing the same pearltrees, but sadly haven’t had the time to explore further. Hell, I haven’t even made my first Prezi yet!

As always, too many tools, too little time. Perhaps a useful tool for mapping the European blogosphere?


Via (below), I discovered this lovely Flash app which shows you your Twitter conversations based on data pulled from the Twitter API.

There was no way to embed anything so I made a short film about what I see when I explored my own mentionmap.

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As it shows, I have been neglecting twittter recently (been trying to get some work done).

Microsoft Pivot

ReadWriteWeb couldn’t (at the time) embed the official launch demo and so embedded this instead:
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While it gives a first glimpse, it would be wrong to think that this is just about organising your family photos. In Pivot:

“datasets are organized as collections … correlations and patterns are easy to see and examine through powerful but simple visualizations … imagine Wikipedia as an infinitely scannable, shuffleable, expandable, retractable, linked, and yet still detachable deck of digital cards”


Here’s the official launch video for those who can’t be bothered to search youtube but do have around 4 minutes to spare:
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Many thanks to Bill Crow, who tweeted me the embed code.

Google Image Swirl

My previous post introduced Google’s Wonder Wheel interface to their search results – now they’ve added (in Google Labs, at least) a similar approach to Google Images – Google Image Swirl.

There are not that many decent videos to embed on Swirl because it’s still in Labs, so I made one myself – this is what you get when you search Image Swirl for ‘europe’:

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Paraphrasing RWW says, Google creates clusters of related images by analyzing the images themselves plus meta tags and other clues in the description of these images – more on ReadWriteWeb.

Further browsing and wonderment

It will take me another 6-12 months to blog in detail about some of the other visualisation software, resources and inspirational examples I’ve found out there. So rather than make you wait, here they are, in no particular order:

  • In case you haven’t seen Mind the Gap, now’s the time. Unveiling the beauty of statistics for a fact based world view“, this uses compelling statistics in compellingly visual ways to make the case for combating global poverty. Inspirational. Some TED videos on the site too.
  • visualcomplexity – “a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks … leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across disciplines as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the WWW”
  • Flowing data “explores how designers, statisticians, and computer scientists are using data to understand ourselves better – mainly through data visualization.
  • David McCandless’ informationisbeautiful is a reference, and his Flikr photostream shows why. In his own words: “I’m interested in how designed information can help us understand the world, cut through BS and reveal hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath
  • infosthetics – “explores the symbiotic relationship between creative design and the field of information visualization … collects projects that represent data or information in original or intriguing ways” – this is where I discovered mentionmap, for example;
  • coolinfographics – another great infographics blog;
  • the Compendium methodology and software tools “is about sharing ideas, creating artifacts, making things together, and breaking down the boundaries between dialogue, artifact, knowledge, and data.” So this is not about cool infographics – the Compendium showcase demonstrates applications for Conflict Resolution, Literature Analysis, Collaborative Hypertext Fiction, Business Process Analysis and Public Policy Deliberation, to name a few;
  • Similarly, the online version of the bCisive desktop package gives “an IBIS-based structured argumentation tool in a collaborative online format“, apparently. Haven’t had time to give it a whirl.
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