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Data Visualisation

Yesterday I attended a session at IWMW entitled “Getting Awesome Results from Data Visualisation” by Rich Kirk from Chameleon Net.

I produce lots of open data, but I rarely consume it, and I figured this might give me some ideas.

The first bit really put me in mind of the data visualisation software in Douglas Adam’s “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”.

“…you can turn your figures into, for instance, a flock of seagulls, and the formation they fly in and the way in which the wings of each gull beat will be determined by the performance of each division of your company. Great for producing animated corporate logos that actually mean something.”

Rich said people doing data visualisations could do worse than starting with the “Choosing a Good Chart” diagram.

The session inspired me to have a go. We keep a big amount of configuration and monitoring data, most of which needs to remain confidential. However, the number of hits, in June 2010, on each of the 333 virtual hosts on our infrastructure web servers is not a secret so I produce a CSV of site,server,hits and uploaded it to ManyEyes.

I was very easily able to produce this visualisation: ECS Web Traffic for June 2010, which shows very clearly that our sites are spread quite reasonably over our servers. There’s a version of this visualisation with time as a dimension. It would be fun to capture data for a whole year and see sites grow and shrink as you move the slider!

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