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The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions by Phil Simon

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CHAPTER 2

Transforming Data into Insights: The Tools

Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.

—Thomas Carlyle

I bet that you've heard of eBay. I'd also wager that you have probably used it at some point in your life.

Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, eBay connects individual buyers, sellers, and many small businesses. As of this writing, the 17,000-employee-company sports nearly 100 million active users around the globe. It has become the world's largest online marketplace. Anyone can buy and sell practically anything on eBay, and some attempted auctions are downright hysterical. Yes, you can buy Twitter followers to make yourself or your organization seem more popular than it is. (For under $20, you can add 12,500 followers right now.) Adam Cohen's excellent 2003 book The Perfect Store provides some particularly colorful items that people have tried to sell on the site over the years. My favorite: an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet. No, not the model. Imagine the shipping on that one.

As of this writing, more than a staggering $62 billion worth of goods has been sold on eBay. This translates to more than $2,000 every second. And all of that commerce generates a staggering amount of data, in excess of 150 billion records generated each day. Certain log tables contain trillions of rows of data.

In an attempt to make sense of this much data, eBay has embraced Big Data and dataviz. In the process, as Gary Dougan explains, it has become a Visual Organization. ...

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