Recently I have been heavily focused on data visualization. This is the missing gap between the analytical folks who gather and analyze data and the business folks who react and act upon the data. There are some fascinating examples of good and bad visualization and no one is better at demonstrating this than the guru of visual design Ed Tufte.
In his books "Visual Design of Quantitative Information" and "Envisioning Information" Ed traverses the chain of events leading up to the Challenger space shuttle disaster and illustrates how the super bright engineers in the program were unable to communicate clear evidence that low temperature adversely affects the efficacy of the O-rings on the shuttle. The fact that the launch took place on the coldest day in the history of the shuttle program (26F) was later found to be a critical factor but more significant is the lack of proper visualization of the data as the reason management was not convinced there was any causual link.
Over the next few weeks I will share with you some tips and ideas how to better visualize information and greatly condense your display to convey more information with less junk (or ChartJunk as per Tufte).