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Beautiful Data by Toby Segaran, Jeff Hammerbacher

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Conclusion

While writing this chapter, I came up with seven thoughts that you may find useful for capturing and presenting your own data in a beautiful way:

  1. Looking at something ordinary in a new way can make it extraordinary.

    You don't need to scan the moon, a tropical island, or a fashion model to obtain data that looks beautiful. Looking at common objects in a new way can have the same effect. In the case of "House of Cards," we scanned a person's face and some common suburban architecture. By looking at these very common things in a new way and with new visualization techniques, we made them interesting.

  2. Tell a story.

    Obviously it helps when you have an amazing song to work with, but do what you can to tell a story with your data. Just showing it to people isn't as cool as giving it some added meaning.

  3. Using multiple visualization techniques is more interesting than using only one.

    As I mentioned previously, the "House of Cards" video was made stronger by using multiple technologies like the Velodyne Lidar, the GeoVideo system, and particle decay post-processing effects. If all we'd done was visualize raw Lidar data, it wouldn't have been as interesting.

  4. Think about the data, not the real world.

    When we added bits of mirror to sheets of plexiglass and moved them in front of Thom's face as he was singing, we weren't thinking how it would look on a video camera. We were thinking about what it would do to the data. The data is the product. When you look at something you want to visualize, ...

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