The creators of cool visualization techs

After every presidential debate, I’ve been pleased to see people using Many Eyes for visual analysis of the speeches and the occurrence of specific words. Many Eyes is an info visualization tool that also allows collaborative visualization by groups of users. It’s one of our most popular services on alphaWorks.

While I frequently talk about new technologies that we launch, you don’t always get to know about the great people that create these innovations. The Many Eyes team, for example, is part of the Visual Communications Lab at IBM Research, where they’re working on numerous innovative projects that will hopefully see the light of day soon. The team includes researchers Fernanda Viegas, Matt McKeon, Frank van Ham and Jesse Kris, as well as Martin Wattenberg, the creator of the Visual Communications Lab.

Today, I’m highlighting Martin in particular, because he’s the common thread behind other visualization technologies on alphaWorks, including History Flow — a tool launched several years ago for “visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors.”

Martin is also responsible for co-developing, with his wife Laura, the Baby Name Wizard, a very cool tool that lets you track the historical popularity of names. ‘Cynthia,’ for example, was pretty popular in the 40s, but not so much now. ‘Cynthya’, as my parents spelled it, has never been used! I even checked the Baby Name Wizard before my son Ellis was born to find something that’s not widely used anymore. Try it out on your own name.

I’m really looking forward to the next visualization techs to come from Martin and the rest of the team.

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