To be honest, most of my research and work has been done in a more qualitative than quantitative fashion. The few statistics that I have seen are not really that detailed or nuanced. However, I was one of the many who followed Nate Silver’s blog during the American presidential election, and was blown away with the accuracy and specificity of his claims. Elections are tricky, as anyone who followed the recent Alberta provincial elections would know, and so the pure confidence of Nate Silver’s claims, with the perfect results he got, were astounding. Not only were the predictions correct, but they were done in a very attractive format, that encouraged interaction and probing with layers and layers of information.
I think it may have partly been from the hype of Nate Silver’s visualizations that we in the Association of Information Systems student chapter invited Breakeven Inc to do a workshop on visualizations. They showed us how they design their custom dashboards for clients, and talked about how many clients are looking for a visual way to demonstrate metrics to their employees. I couldn’t find anything on my laptop but I’ll dig around for more (that being said, we have wrangled some internships with them if anyone is interested in user experience and design).
However, visualizations do not enjoy full support. XKCD had a few negative words about popular methods of visualizing in this comic ( http://www.xkcd.com/1273/ ) although it also shows some great examples of visualizations as well (http://xkcd.com/980/huge/#x=-6400&y=-6272&z=3)
What do you all think? Are visualizations gimmicky or do they sometimes very useful at explaining something that numbers don’t quite put across?