Saturday, August 11, 2012

Data visualization: How 100meter dash records have improved

There are more data than we can possibly consume.  All of us get too many emails, social network updates and news to handle.  When you have too much data and it starts obscuring the forest, you need to back up and relate other data points with latest data points.

There is one excellent example of visualizing 100 meter dash winners finish time.  Kevin Quealy and Graham Roberts created this animation to illustrate how 100 meter dash finish time has improved over the years.

Instead of showing you actual time of each Olympics winners (data points), it shows how much Olympics winners' performance has improved over time.  The animation is about visualizing the data and showing everything in context.

That's what data analyst does.  Data analyst's job is to ask a question about relationships among data points and create new insights from them.  Often these relationships are not at all obvious when you are combing through individual data points.  It is especially hard to qualitatively understand and communicate what a relationship is even when you have quantitative data.

Computer industry will need many more data analysts.  Starting with user's online shopping data to website visiting patterns are all recorded and digitized these days.  Someone has to be able to string all those data points together and be able to tell a consistent story around seemingly random data points.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Mona. Data visualization is about telling a story with collection of data. Check out another great example by Kevin Quealy: I'm definitely in the group who takes my laptop home, and now I don't feel so abnormal... :-)