Tools for Data Visualization

I’ve been looking into different online visualization tools with a view to using the data collected by the OLnet project.  (I’m also building up an inspiration gallery on Pinterest.)  Here’s a provisional list with a few comments of my own.  I’m not really going to look at word clouds (e.g. Wordle) as they’re a bit simple for my needs.  I’d be interested in further suggestions or thoughts on these tools!

easelly

This service has a number of templates available, all of which seem to be open to a considerable degree of customization (including uploading your own graphical elements).  A drag and drop canvas makes the process seem relatively painless, but it’s worth noting that you need to have a pretty good idea of what you want to say at the outset as there’s no analysis function on here as far as I can tell.  Outputs are exported as image files.

inforgram

Once you’re logged in, Infogram presents you with a range of poster template designs.  After choosing a template, you can edits things like titles, charts and text but the basic elements seem to be permanent.  Four types of chart are available: bar, pie, line, and matrix.  You can generate these from spreadsheet information that you upload to the site.  Once completed, these charts can be embedded in various ways.

visual.ly

Visual.ly supports the creation of infographics from Twitter hashtags or Twitter accounts.  (I tried to generate one which described activity on the #oer hashtag but it wouldn’t seem to render.)  It also seems to be a place where graphic designers share their work; I couldn’t see any obvious way to create some of the items in the ‘popular’ gallery using the tools available to me with my account.  There are new tools in development, however, so perhaps I just don’t have access to these  at the moment.  Which is a shame, because there are some cools visualizations on here.


Google Fusion Tables
Again, one can upload data and have it turned into a visual form.  This service seems to support geomapping through integration with Google Maps.  It also seem to be set up to support collaborative working (like other parts of the Google family) and allows you to merge datasets, which could be interesting.

GephiGephi is open source software that you install on your machine.  It looks like it lets you deal with quite complex data sets which are linked in various ways by manipulating different representations to bring out different aspects.  It’s mainly configured for network analysis according to the examples provided, and it seems to be able to harvest data from social networks, which could make for some interesting mashups.

manyeyes

Manyeyes is an IBM research tool which allows you to upload spreadsheet information.  Most people on the site seem to be using to create word clouds or simple charts, and I found a few OER related examples.  It looks like the data has to conform to fairly strict protocols before visualizations will make sense.

There’s also a long list of tools like these at computerworld.com, but most of them look like they’re a bit techie for me.

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