Now You See It Hardcover – 30 Apr 2009
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About the Author
Stephen Few is the author of "Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual" "Communication of Data," " Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables" "and Graphs to Enlighten," and the monthly "Visual Business Intelligence" newsletter. He has worked for more than 25 years as an information technology innovator, teacher, and consultant. As the principal of the consultancy Perceptual Edge, he focuses on practical uses of data visualization to explore, analyze, and present quantitative business information. He lives in Berkeley, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
Contains numerous examples using modern software such as Tableau and Spotfire, but also tips on beating Excel into submission.
The focus of this book is displays for analysis and understanding, rather than for presentation or monitoring (dashboards). The book therefore covers some displays (such as parallel coordinate plots) that only really work when used dynamically, rather than being static slides or paper printouts.
Sidebars throughout the book give succinct requirements that good information visualisation software should support, such as "provide a means to easily filter all tightly-coupled tables and graphs together by a single action".
Much of the material I have seen before, but this is still a useful collection of 'good practice' for common display types such as line graphs and dot plots, and a good source book for less-well known types of graph.
The first half of the book has a different focus than I expected. Few suggests that "...we've largely ignored the primary tool that makes information meaningful and useful: the human brain. While concentrating on the technologies, we've forgotten the human skills that are required to make sense of the data." He describes the human visual system, how it processes information, and the errors in perception it sometimes makes. His emphasis, however, is on the strengths of visual perception which he links to best practices in data analysis. One of the most useful parts of this section is in Chapter 2, where he lists and describes the "aptitudes and attitudes of effective analysts."
The book's second half describes and illustrates specific visual analysis techniques. It is rich with visual examples, comparisons of effective and ineffective displays, and series of related visualizations which show incremental steps of data transformation and analysis. Chapters are organized by specific data patterns and analytical techniques, describing how to look for the following six kinds of patterns:
- Ranking and part-to-whole relationships
- Patterns in multivariate data
Two final chapters present recommendations for developers of data analysis software and make predictions about future trends in visual data analysis.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A pretty boring read if you go at it cover to cover, which was the way I started.
As a reference book, however, it is excellent, and highly recommended.