Data Driven Infographics Made Easy

The problem with infographics is that they are hard to create, time-consuming to design, or expensive to outsource. Not too mention that most infographics are static, meaning that they don’t update in real time. Now this is great if you’ve got data that changes rather infrequently.  But what if you want to create compelling visualizations that are driven by real-time data?  

The mission of metaLayer is to make the creation of such data-driven visuals easy for anyone (not just expert data scientists and hackers).

We want to offer our users an ‘insight engine’ that allows them to do more than search for answers, rather they can compute their own or discover what others have done.  More importantly, they can ask questions of the data created.  

We aim to make data on the web more transparent, more interactive, and subsequently easier to understand and share.   

In metaLayer users can easily create and share infographics like one below, styled to match the channel that it’s delivered on (their blog, website, etc.)

…however, what’s really cool their audience has the option of diving into the data that was used to create said graphic:

metaLayer comes out of private beta in February after some very big announcements at Strata.  We’re looking forward to showing you exactly what we’ve been working on!

Automating the Creation of Infographics

Over the past few years I’ve had a few of my infographics spread around the web in interesting ways.  Some have gone viral on social media channels, others have been picked up by people for use in their slides, while others have been published or referenced by journalists. That has lead to a great deal of interest in the subject matter, but by far, the most common thread I’ve observed is from people who want to create visualizations of their own data.  

Usually they have little to no budget, but are so sick of looking at the hieroglyphics that only their PhDs can understand that they are willing to try something else.  Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a need for the intricate designs that appeal to experts and academics, but sometimes relating that information to people outside of that domain of expertise is not as easy as it could be.

However, developing infographics is at the same time nuanced and slow, as it is complex and meticulous.  And there I’m only talking about static work – the path to learning R or Flex and creating heatmaps like the image below is even steeper! 

Over at my company metaLayer our dashboard product includes a visualization suite. Some of you may be wondering just what will be available in that suite.  Well, here are a some sneak peeks of the type of visualizations we’re working on. 

These are just different ways of visualizing the incredibly difficult contextualization features we’ve developed for our platform, but they’re necessary if our goal is to make such complicated information collection more consumable. 

Anyways, here is a sneak peak of some things I’m working on.  You’ll have to visit blog.metalayer.com for more details about how and when these will be integrated. (Hint: Soon.)

The stacked area graph is a common chart in many programs.  The concept is simple, the columns represent periods of time, while the colors represent one measure of value, and the area of the stacked shapes represents another.

One that harkens back to my days as an audio engineer (it looks like a sine wave visualization). Using the same concepts illustrated above, this densely packed visualization can allow you to look at a set of information, a subset of that information and comparate it to a completely disparate type of information (the line in the background). It’s best when used with excessive datasets to spot trends over time.

There are quite a few more that we’re working on, and you’ll find news about their release here.

Oversharing devalues the currency of those that might abuse your personal data.

Hasan Elahi on trackingtransience.net, his response to being falsely accused of terrorist sympathy by the FBI.

Messaging currently accounts for the majority of global data revenues. Messaging in 2011 will still be responsible for more than 60 percent of global data revenues; SMS and MMS alone will contribute a massive 55.7 percent to global data revenues in 2011.

Kiwanja.net