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Archive for October 25th, 2008

IEEE VAST 2008 – Christian Chabot Keynote

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I think one of my favorite events of the entire Visweek 2008 was the VAST 2008 keynote by the CEO of Tableau Software, Christian Chabot. [Apparently, he blogs too.]

He motivated the audience by making a very strong case for why there is a need to use Visual Analytics software. He basically said that there was a much wider customer base, than one would imagine, for quality visual analytics tool. What was interesting to me was that he said that his definition of a successful visual analytics tool was how widely adopted that tool was. I personally believe that its the best way to make sure that users have the power of visual analytics at their finger tips. 

He basically said that we havent optimized the impact of visual analytics until you help users with their own data. The demo of Tableau was my favorite part, where he would end up interacting with simple datasets to show how easy it was to get insight or just know more about the data. 

I think my favorite quote from the talk was ‘Visual analytics can help people test their hunches even when they lead to nowhere.’ 🙂 This was great since this is exactly the purpose of visualization. The idea of interacting with your data to learn more but also just confirm what you already know. 

He then showed an amazing demo of  presidential donations data from new york city. Comparisons of Obama and McCain showed some wondreful, interesting patterns in parts of new york, like the upper east side and so on. Some of those patterns were expected for those who know the demographics of new york city

Some of the highlights of the talk were: 

– Most analytics tasks dont result in ‘Aha’ discoveries. 

– People dont like to admit they need outside help to make discoveries about their own data. 

– Visualization and Visual Analytics helps people think of what questions to ask. More importantly, it helps them enter the Visual analysis cycle of interact, explore, visualize, obtain insight – rinse and repeat 🙂 

His most imprtant statement of the keynote speech was that “The number one reason people buy visual analytics software was to save time.” 

I think it was the kind of keynote that makes you think and shakes you up a bit. I agree that we needed to hear some of those words. I particularly enjoyed the talk, since I had mentioned Tableau Software in one of my previous blog posts on ‘Visualizing companies leading the way.’  After listening to the talk, I feel more confident that Tableau will make a big difference in the Visual analytics and business analytics community. If you have anything to say about the keynote, please feel free to add a comment.


Written by alark

October 25, 2008 at 5:52 pm

IEEE VisWeek 2008 – Workshops overview

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The IEEE Visweek 2008 had a bunch of wonderful workshops. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Understanding Federal Funding: Agencies, Initiatives, and Peer Review‘ workshop which was led by Terry Yoo who represented National Institutes of Health (NIH). The other workshop participants were Christine Chalk from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Larry Rosenblum from the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

They basically said that given the state of the economy, it is almost certain that the funding situation is going to be bad for the next fiscal year. But given that, I really enjoyed the advice they had for the audience. Terry spoke about how its important to find the right institute within the NIH to apply to. He stressed on the fact that its extremely important to send your grant to the right place to ensure that you get funding for your research. Here’s a list of the institutes that comprise NIH. Christine spoke about DOE’s diverse funding opportunities but how sometimes they get less applications than they expect. Its definitely something to remember for all those who can apply for funding to the DOE. 

Larry Rosenblum probably gave some priceless advice regarding how a grant should be written and what are the ‘donts’ about a grant. He gave some excellent examples of things that worked in grants. All their slides can be downloaded at

The next workshop that I was very excited about was the ‘From Theory to Practice: Design, Vision and Visualization‘ which was organized by Lyn Bartram, Maureen Stone and Diane Gromala. They have some slides online at I look forward to some more such endeavors from the community. We need many more such discussions to make sure that no one ever uses a rainbow colormap again 🙂

Some of the other interesting workshops that were conducted can be found at Unfortunately, I couldnt attend them but will definitely hope to look at some of the slides from those workshops.  If any of you attended those workshops, pls feel free to comment on them in the comments section.

Written by alark

October 25, 2008 at 5:11 pm

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