When the human realm seems doomed to heaviness, I feel the need to fly like Perseus into some other space. I am not talking about escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I feel the need to change my approach, to look at the world from a different angle, with different logic, different methods of knowing and proving.
ITALO CALVINO, 1993
Sometimes, the first data sketches we make sing, “Hey explorer, look over here!” But we should not always expect to see meaningful patterns at first glance. Data often holds more than first visions reveal. Data needs our help to probe its murky depths. Operations—analogous to counting, subtraction, and multiplication—can help produce more visual meat for our eyes to bite into.
The search for patterns can be augmented. Layered guides, like mini-maps to the data, help bring features of interest to our attention. We may be tempted to hijack any of the following devices as standalone summaries of the data, but it is far too early for that. Profiles of data, just like profiles of people, conceal essential details. We are still wearing our explorer hats and digging for treasure. No data point should be hidden. For now, each profile is an accessory guide that will help us supercharge our inspection.