Introducing Fell in Love with Data

I love data mugAaah! It’s my great pleasure to announce to the world the birth of Fell in Love with Data, a new blog on data visualization and analysis. I am Enrico Bertini, a visual analytics researcher and I will strive to make this blog as useful as I can to practitioners and data-enthusiastic people.

FILWD (this is how I will often call it) is all about the joy and fun of getting interesting information out of data; better yet when it is large, complex, and dirty (we don’t like easy jobs here). It’s a way to celebrate the fun and beauty of living in this era of abundant data, of having all this information at our hands and being able to make it useful in funny and unexpected ways through pixels and bits.

Want to get involved already? Great. Here are my hooks: rss, email, tweet.

Why do you write this blog?

I write this blog for several reasons (some selfish some altruistic) but most of the motivation comes from these two:

(1) Bridge the chasm between Practitioners and Researchers. I consider myself and academic person and I am happy with it. However, I see a huge gap between what we do in the inner circles of academia and what a multitude of practitioners need in the real world. My goal here is to make this world more open and accessible to every interested person.

(2) Offer guidance in place of hype. The web is widely (and wildly) populated with data analysis artifacts of any kind, some good, some bad. Some of these from time to time get the attention of the large public and create some hype, which is fine, but it starts and ends in a matter of days. It’s just consumed. I am convinced we also need something else, we need to produce solid stuff that lasts.

How is FINLWD different from other existing blogs?

FINLWD is not about reporting news on cool visualizations on the web or somewhere else (even if I might end up reporting about some). If you are interested in these, you’d better go to the best sources you can find on the whole web: infosthetics and flowingdata. They are doing a great job and I just cannot (and do not want to) compete with them. Here I strive to provide some guidance and reflections, a different kind of business. And I hope you would like to help me in this journey.

What are your favorite data blogs?

I like infosthetics and flowingdata for their daily dose of imagery but I have learned a lot from eagereyes and excelcharts. I love the way they strive to go beyond the consumption of colored pixels and try to help people reflect and learn the craft and science of visual data analysis. Thank you Robert and Jorge.

What can I find here that is useful for me?

Well, I have plans … and I really hope these will satisfy your palate. For now you can find a selected set of posts I imported from my old blog Visuale (yes, I already had one … maybe some of you remember it). These reflect my selection of “useful” posts I wrote in the past. In general, my posts here will cover: reflections on the state of data analysis and its community, guides on how to do useful things, my personal experiments in data visualization and analysis (or of some friend of mine) . Plus whatever will come up next that might be useful to you.

Who are you to tell me how to deal with my data?

I have been dealing with data visualization and analysis since 2002, and in 2006 I earned my PhD in computer engineering with a thesis on information visualization. Since then, I have been working on a variety of problems and settings and today I am part of the data analysis and visualization group at the Univ. of Konstanz. I am dealing with data every day. Plus, I am well connected with the research community. For this reasons I hope I can bring to you the useful information you need. Nonetheless, I struggle every day with my ignorance and I know how much I have to learn. I hope FILWD will be a way to learn together too and have fun.

Why are you so enthusiastic about data?

Because data has the potential to create a better world. Data is everywhere and lots of useful stuff can be extracted out of it if we have the right tools in our hands. Never in human history we have been able to collect and analyze such a large body of information and the consequences for us and our children can be enormous. Of course, some of them will be bad but this doesn’t prevent me to be enthusiastic about it. There are opportunities for curing disease, making states more democratic, helping us know more about ourselves, etc. You might want to read the following books to understand where my enthusiasm comes from: Supercrunchers, The Numerati, Beautiful Data.

Why did you open FILWD if you already had the Visuale blog?

Visuale was great. I loved learning to dirty job of blogging there. I have been evolving for quite some time, but now I feel I need to start from a blank sheet, something totally new. I know this might not be the best strategy but this is what I feel I have to do and I hope you will like it.

I like it, what can I do to help you?

A lot! First you can subscribe to my feed by rss or email. But this is just a starting point. Please let me know: Is there anything you like or don’t like here? Do you have any suggestions? Is there anything special you would like to see discussed here? Or maybe you have a specific data analysis problem you are struggling with? I’d love to hear it. You can send me an email (see address and contact form on the menu here on the right) and/or follow me on twitter.

Ok, it’s done. Let’s go and have fun!

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