Keynote — Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg
June 18, 8:30-10:00am
Shakespeare, God, and Lonely Hearts:
Transforming Data Access with Many
Data visualization has historically been accessible only to the
elite in academia, business, and government. It is “serious” technology
done by experts for experts. But in recent years, web-based visualizations—ranging
from political art projects to news stories—have reached audiences
of millions. Unfortunately, while lay users can view many sophisticated
visualizations, they have few ways to create them. In order to “democratize” visualization,
we have built Many Eyes, a web site where people may upload their
own data, create interactive visualizations, and carry on conversations.
By making these tools available to anyone on the web, the site fosters
a social style of data analysis that empowers users to engage with
public data through discussion and collaboration. Political discussions,
citizen activism, religious conversations, game playing, and educational
exchanges are all happening on Many Eyes. As we will discuss in this
talk, the public nature of these visualizations provides users with
a transformative path to information literacy.
Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg are research
scientists in the Visual Communication Lab at IBM. Having created traditional
visualization tools for a number of years, the two became fascinated
by the power of the web to unleash collective discovery and discussion
among lay users. They are currently exploring the social side of visual
tools to foster collaboration, collective sensemaking, and storytelling.
Viégas is known for her pioneering work on depicting chat histories and
email. Before joining IBM, Viégas’s research at the MIT Media Lab
focused on the visualization of the traces people leave as they interact in online
communities. Some of her projects explored email archives, newsgroup conversations,
and the editing history of wiki pages. Her interest in the stories that these
social archives tell us led to a series of visualization pieces of highly personal,
Wattenberg's visualizations of the stock market and baby names are
considered internet classics. Prior to IBM, Wattenberg was the Director
of Research and Development at SmartMoney.com, a joint venture of
Dow Jones and Hearst. His work at SmartMoney included the groundbreaking
Map of the Market, commonly held as a powerful model of user-friendly
Both Viégas and Wattenberg are also known for their visualization-based
artwork, which has been exhibited in venues such as the Museum of
Modern Art in New York, London Institute of Contemporary Arts and
the Whitney Museum of American Art. The two became a team in 2003
when they decided to visualize Wikipedia, leading to the “history
flow” project that revealed the self-healing nature of the
Viégas holds a Ph.D. in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT
and lives in Boston. Wattenberg holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from
U.C. Berkeley and lives in Winchester, Massachusetts.
For more information about Fernanda Viégas visit http://www.research.ibm.com/visual/fernanda.html.
For more information about
Martin Wattenberg visit http://www.research.ibm.com/visual/martin.html.