Socializing the analysis of the socialization of banking

When Allen Noren pointed to this visualization of U.S. government bailouts, I wanted to tweak it by showing the magnitudes on a timeline. I found this data set on Many Eyes, updated it with the number $700B, and made this bubble chart:

Bailouts by year (Many Eyes)

It was quick and easy to do that, and the result was automatically shared in a social environment that invites discussion and revisualization.

But the visualization wasn’t quite what I wanted. So I fired up Excel and made this version:

Bailouts by year (Excel)

That does what I meant1. It also took longer, was harder, and isn’t automatically shared as an active object in a social environment on the web.

The reason it took longer and was harder is that I couldn’t find a way to automate the creation, placement, and rotation of custom labels. That might be more than we can expect a software wizard to do. But there are plenty of human wizards who know how to do it, and some of them probably have automation tricks up their sleeves.

That makes two reasons I wish that Excel could share active objects into social environments on the web. First, so that a la Many Eyes, we could more directly riff on one anothers’ visualizations. Second, so that we could more easily teach one another how to use Excel to become more active participants in a world of data-driven abstractions.


1 Well, almost. I’d rather cluster the 2008 bubbles within an aggregate bubble.

14 Comments

  1. Are ‘active objects’ in a social environment yet another infection vector?

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m definitely for sharing information, and if the numbers and charts can be refined collectively that would help ‘mere mortals’ with access to information – but can these objects end up infecting my information stream?

  2. > but can these objects end up infecting
    > my information stream?

    The security risk, if that’s what you mean, is whatever risk attaches to the use of AJAX or Flash or Silverlight or any other kind of interaction that flows on the web.

  3. Wouldn’t this be more useful using percentage of GDP at the time instead of absolute dollar values?

  4. > Wouldn’t this be more useful using
    > percentage of GDP at the time instead
    > of absolute dollar values?

    Good point. That’s what Many Eyes is all about, of course. Riffing on data in a shared online space, with actual numbers and actual visualizations.

  5. You said “the result was automatically shared in a social environment that invites discussion”. But that isn’t quite true. I see 9 (now 10) comments on this blog entry, but zero on the Many Eyes pages (for the chart, the dataset, or the ProPublica dataset you copied from).

    Why aren’t people “riffing on data in a shared online space”? Neither Many Eyes nor Swivel have managed to generate any significant discussion traffic. What are we missing?

  6. > What are we missing?

    Well, there is commentary here:

    http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/view/SgjIIQsOtha6Ts1uot6TQ2~

    Still, you raise an excellent point. Ideally we’d be able to weave discussion components and visualization components in a variety of ways.

    And as a matter of fact, Many Eyes visualizations are embeddable. But not, unfortunately, here on this wordpress.com-based blog, which prohibits most forms of active content for reasons of security.

    I wish there were certain approved sources of active content, though. Seems like wordpress.com could enumerate a set of trusted sources — Many Eyes, Popfly, etc.

  7. I have just created my first interactive ManyEyes map “Ease of doing business index in different countries” http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/visualizations/easy-of-doing-business I posted the map as image in my blog Russian Sphinx http://russiansphinx.blogspot.com/2010/06/warning-business-friendly-economies.html

    ManyEyes is user friendly so you do not need to spend a lot of time to create good chart or map, but I am not sure if it is good solution for me. I need good charts and maps for my blog. Interactive maps looks perfect but I am not able to place them as interactive on my blog, so I just post normal image and add link to ManyEyes. Maybe it will be a bit annoying for my visitors and I will have to focus on static maps.

    I also use Tableau Public.

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