Ben Fry, co-creator of Processing and head of Fathom Design, talks data visualization with O’Reilly Radar editor Mac Slocum. When asked about the concern over visualization and analysis getting into amateur hands:
I think it’s kind of funny… The same argument has been made with any technological leap since the beginning of time. Books printed in mass had a similar reaction. The internet came along and everybody could post things on the internet and wouldn’t that be the end of the world… The important thing is to focus on the literacy aspect of it. The more that people are doing the work — it all kind of goes to improve the conversation of what’s good, bad useful and what’s not.
When asked how he sees visualization developing over the next couple of years:
I think the real thing that’s going to change is that we’re going to start understanding that visualization isn’t this sort of monolithic thing… I like to look at it a lot like writing. You have novels and poetry and haikus. You know there’s lots of different types of writing and styles of writing — and I think the same thing happens in visualization… some things are tools for analysis and some things are purely for entertainment, and there’s not so much a spectrum as different ways of addressing it.
Watch the short eight-minute interview below. There are some other interesting soundbites in there. I especially like the tidbit at the end about snippy discussions within the visualization sphere. Similar sentiments in a recent Q&A with Moritz Stefaner.