• Jan 1, 1970
    (b.) - ?


An American scientist and artist known for his work with data visualization, he along with Fernanda Viégas, worked at the Cambridge location of IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center as part of the Visual Communication Lab, and created Many Eyes, a free public site that allows anyone to create a visualization from a dataset. He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. He received an A.B. degree from Brown University in 1991, an M.S. degree from Stanford University in 1992, and Ph.D. in Mathematics from U.C. Berkeley in 1996. From 1996 through 2002, he lived in New York City and worked for Dow Jones, on the personal finance and investing site, SmartMoney.com, a joint venture of Dow Jones and Hearst. While at SmartMoney.com, he focused on new forms of interactive web-based journalism. Early work in 1996-1997 ranged from service pieces, such as worksheets to guide financial decisions, to expository graphical narratives on subjects such as bond yield curves. In 1998 he created the Map of the Market, which visualized the stock price performance of hundreds of publicly traded companies. The Map was the first web-based treemap and was widely imitated. Subsequently, he started a research and development group at SmartMoney, which was responsible for interactive charts, graphs, and simulations, as well as a library of visualization components. Outside of his work at Dow Jones, he is known for interactive visualizations that have introduced mass audiences to data sets ranging from baby names to museum collections at NASA and the Smithsonian. In 2002 he took a position at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, in its Cambridge, Massachusetts location; and in 2004, he founded IBM Research's Visual Communication Lab. He, in partnership with Fernanda Viégas at IBM, has published widely on collective intelligence and the social use of data visualization. Their work with visualizations such as History Flow and Chromogram led to some of the earliest publications on the dynamics of Wikipedia, including the first scientific study of the repair of vandalism. He is one of the founders of IBM's experimental Many Eyes web site, created in 2007 which seeks to make visualization technology accessible to the public. In addition to broad uptake from individuals, the technology from Many Eyes has been used by nonprofits and news outlets such as the New York Times Visualization Lab. He invented or co-invented many visualization techniques. The Map of the Market was based on a new algorithm for treemap layouts; a method for displaying hierarchical data by using nested rectangles. The Arc Diagram is a novel technique for visualizing structure in long sequences, closely related to linear embeddings of networks, a technique that has since been used by many other designers. He and Viégas together introduced several techniques for depicting text: in addition to the history flow technique described above, the two created such text visualizations as the Word Tree and Chromogram. As an artist, he uses interactive graphics and visualization as expressive media. He has primarily worked on internet-accessible projects, but has also created installations, videos, and prints. In the 1990s he began to work with information visualization as an artistic medium. For example, his Shape of Song series (1999–2002) depicted the form of musical compositions; this project exists online as well as in prints that have been exhibited in multiple venues. Starrynight (1999), a collaboration with Alexander Galloway and Mark Tribe, provided a new form of social, visual navigation for an online discussion. Idealine (2001), an interactive representation of the online art universe, was the first internet artwork commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as a very early example of an artwork that used "crowdsourcing" to gather data. He has also worked with Golan Levin, contributing to the visualization technique used in “The Secret Lives of Numbers” (2002). He frequently works with Marek Walczak, with whom he formed a collaboration known as MW2MW. A key theme of their work is the relationship between language and space. For example, “Apartment” took inspiration from the concept of a memory palace, turning free-form text entered by a viewer into an architectural floor plan. The piece has appeared in many versions, including online (2000), an installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2001) and in many other venues. Other works explore the possibilities of interaction: the “Thinking Machine” series (2004–2008), for example, is based on a chess- playing program that attempts to best the viewer while displaying its own thinking process. Since 2003, he has collaborated with Fernanda Viégas to create interactive works that evoke the joy of "revelation". They have used academic techniques such as history flow to create prints that have been shown in venues such as the New York Museum of Modern Art. In April 2010, he and Viégas started a new venture called Flowing Media, Inc., to focus on visualization aimed at consumers and mass audiences. Four months later, both of them joined Google as the co-leaders of the Google's "Big Picture" data visualization group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Publications with which he is involved include: 2007: “Many Eyes: A Site for Visualization at Internet Scale”, with Fernanda B. Viégas, Frank van Ham, Jesse Kriss, and Matt McKeon. IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization; 2005: “Baby Names, Visualization, and Social Data Analysis”, IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization; 2004: “Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations”, with Fernanda B. Viégas and Kushal Dave. ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI); and 2002: “Ordered and quantum treemaps: Making effective use of 2D space to display hierarchies”, with Ben Bederson and Ben Shneiderman, ACM Transactions on Graphics, Vol 21, No. 4. He is known for his visualization-based artwork, which has been exhibited in venues such as the London Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the New York Museum of Modern Art.
  • Date of Birth:

    Jan 1, 1970
  • Noted For:

    Co-creator of IBM's ground-breaking public visualization platform Many Eyes, an experiment in open, public data visualization and analysis
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