Visualizations are Cool

I’m not a programmer but my geek streak gets fired up by new visualizations of data, especially visualizations that are interactive. Logos 3 includes a ton of neat-o (and useful) visualizations—from wee, data-dense sparklines tothe “word wheel” graphs in Bible Word Study,and Timelines of biblical people and events.

So last week I was excited to come across three different sites with creative and useful visualizations—one exploring data of a political nature and two biblical.

Following President Bush’s State of the Union address, The New York Times website offered an interactive visualization that makes it easy to explore vocabulary usage trends across the president’s 7 State of the Union addresses.

Then, at the Blogos blog (whose author Sean Boisen now works here at Logos), there was this interactive treemap that makes it easy to see which pericopes are common or unique among the Gospels.

The ever-interesting ESV Blog lit up the blogosphere with their visualization of New Testament social networks based on proximity within the text.

As the ESV Blog aptly notes,a more reliable map of actual relationships between biblical people could be produced via semantic tagging. This involves identifying or “disambiguating”each person in the Bible and describing the relationships between them.

The Biblical People addinin Logos Bible Software 3 is a first pass at portraying these relationships, though at this point the data is limited to explicit family ties expressed in the text. You’ll see a richer data set at some point in the future.

For many of us, exploring biblical information in such a visual way is a new experience. Here at Logos, we strive to incorporate stunning new technologies and visualizations into our products in a way that demands little or nospecialized knowledgeon the part of the user. In other words, we want to hire people who are super smart about linguistics, library science, programming, and visualization…so you don’t have to be!

That said, you might be inspired, as I have been, to grow your familiarity with the concepts and basic vocabulary of visualization. So here’s one final link to some “knowledge maps”—visualizations that help explain visualizations—at Visual-Literacy.org.

In particular, besure tocheck out the very cool Periodic Table of Visualization Methods, which provides examples of visualizations such as the “iceberg,” the “hyperbolic tree” and “mintzberg’s organigraph”.

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One Response to “Visualizations are Cool”

  1. Craig January 30, 2007 at 3:53 am #

    Very cool! For a very long time I’ve been interested in visual mapping of data and especially biblical data. It’s nice to learn that there are in fact others out there who share the same interest and to learn of some new tools. Appreciate the post and additional resources. I also look forward to what will be happening in future releases of Logos.