Among the many things that Phil Meyer has gotten right is the need for journos to understand data and how to tell stories from that data. Lately you many have noticed that the NYTimes has been doing a lot of graphics to do just that.

The graphs looked familiar to me in some way and now I know why. IBM and NYTimes are partnering using IBM’s Many Eyes, a social datavisualization site/product, to allow not only NYTimes journos to visualize large datasets, but also you and your classes.

At the NYTimes Visualization Lab site, you have access to the same datasets that the journos have and you can visualize that data in several other ways with customized presentations.

You may have noticed some Wordle (aka word cloud) visualizations in the Daily Tar Heel recently. Chancellor Thorp’s installation speech was Wordled and shown behind him on the front page.

Holden Thorp and his Wordled speech

If you’d like to upload your own datasets or find more than the NYTimes has to offer, you can visit the IBM Many Eyes site, and go from there. Of course, you and your students and co-researchers can comment on the visualizations and datasets as you would expect on a social media site.

The media here are the datasets and the visualizations that is the interesting shift. You’ll be interested to know that the NYTimes began first with campaign finance API released earlier this month, but there is much more there now.

For those who are less than happy with IBM’s solution or who would like to try another variation on this same approach Swivel (thanks Andrew Dunn for pointing this out) offers many of the same features including the social components.

Another great site for visualization is Hans Rosling’s Gapminder which includes a great video of his 2007 TED talk. Gapminder uses animation to show the passage of time (for example).

Parts of Gapminder were acquired by Google and have been showing up on
in a quiet and very beta way.

Microsoft has been even quieter about their version of motion visualization, but I can tell you that something along the same line has been being demoed since April of this year. Expect something like Gapminder from MSFT this spring if not sooner.

Returning you to your regular programming…