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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Technical Report: Baby Names, Visualization, and Social Data Analysis

Baby Names, Visualization, and Social Data Analysis

Technical Report #:05-06
Author(s): Martin Wattenberg
Category(s):Design Study, Human-Computer Interaction, Time- Varying Data Visualization
Full Citation:Copyright 2005, IBM. All rights reserved.


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The NameVoyager, a web-based visualization of historical trends in baby naming, has proven remarkably popular. This paper discusses the display techniques used for smooth visual exploration of thousands of time series and the application's simple keyboard-based mechanism for filtering the view. We also describe design decisions behind the application and lessons learned in creating an application that makes do-it-yourself data mining fun. The prime lesson, it is hypothesized, is that a webbased
information visualization is fruitfully viewed not as a tool but as part of an online social environment. In other words, to design a successful exploratory data analysis tool, one good strategy is to create a system that enables “social” data analysis.

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