Now that data insight and innovative visualization is revolutionizing content delivery, what do we do with our old platforms? Google Search, Wikipedia, RSS Feeds; are these simply to be thrown on the scrap heap?

No, of course not. Instead, the best and brightest of the world’s data visualizers are looking at these platforms in new and exciting ways. Rather than putting the old guard to bed, data and data visualization is being applied to these platforms to enhance, augment and revamp the services they offer.

The results are new, exciting interactive methods of data presentation, providing exciting solutions to old data conundrums. Read on to discover more about four of the most intriguing examples.

Google Search

The data acquired from a Google search is of immense value to business owners. Not only does it give bosses and strategists an insight into what consumers are looking for online and into how they are connecting with content, but it also sheds light on the global conversation: upon what issues are resonating with the public at any given time.


Image via Google.com/trends

In 2015, Google unveiled their A Year in Trends visualization; a piece of graphic work which added a whole new level of value to Google’s websearch facility. This visualization presented details of some of the most searched topics of that year in the form of an array of tiles, showing us where the priorities of searchers lie.

The tiles themselves provided users with some pretty striking visual reputations of how many people searched for what and when, but by clicking on the tiles, we were able to drill down and achieve a deeper insight. For example, clicking on the “Water on Mars” tile not only gives us further detail on the interest generated by the possible discovery of water on mars, it also shows us what questions users were asking Google, and which planets received the most search hits.

Understanding the thought processes of consumers through their questions, and examining similar search terms, enables business owners to better position their content for SEO success.

RSS Feeds

RSS – or Rich Site Summary – feeds were one of the precursors of the social internet, giving users tailored ‘news on demand’ services based on the blogs they subscribed to. Early versions of RSS have been doing the rounds since the late 1990s, almost a full decade before the likes of Twitter and other microblog subscription services began to appear.


Image via Twingly.com

Other news delivery services may have overtaken RSS, but it is still widely used today. The recent development of two applications, which alter the way in which we view RSSfeeds, has shown that developers and visualizers still consider RSS to be a major player.

Voyage’s visualization plots data received from RSS feeds in a timeline which scrolls from left to right across your screen, highlighting different stories in order of perceived importance. As a way of presenting hierarchies of RSS data, Voyage’s work is impressive.

However, Twingly takes this even further, by providing blog insights via standard feed, while plotting blogger activity on a world map in real time. The insights that this configuration of data and graphics can provide is immense. It is possible to see which regions are engaging with which stories. We are able to tell instantly which content is causing the biggest buzz on a global scale, and is vital to success.

Google Maps

Google Maps has revolutionized the way we approach the world. By accessing maps and navigational equipment via our handheld smartphone or tablet devices, we found ourselves at liberty to explore the world and to really get to know our local areas.


Image via MicroStrategy.com

But it has also revolutionized data visualization. Google Maps is the perfect platform for data visualizers to overlay their creations, giving content users the opportunity to explore a map and interact with different forms of data in different locations.

This capability has been used to great effect by developers and data visualizers. Maps have been created, outlining Civil War era battlegrounds, displaying food hygiene certification for restaurants in London, or providing a look at the locations in which certain products sell best. With a bit of imagination and a lot of great data, there is very little that a skilled visualizer cannot do with Google Maps.

The interactive element of Google Maps also lends itself very nicely to data visualization, as analysts seek to create new configurations of the data at hand, presenting it in new and increasingly insightful ways to users.

Wikipedia

Perhaps not quite as insightful as the other examples on this list, but still interesting in terms of the presentation and organization of data, is the WikiMindMap. This great piece of visualization uses the interconnectivity of the data stored across the Wikipedia encyclopedia network to create a map bridging the gaps between different concepts.


Image via WikiMindmap.org

Users can see at a glance the information collected in each Wikipedia page, and also how one page connects to another. The idea is to put the vast array of information contained within the architecture of the Wikipedia site at the fingertips of users, creating an intuitive and easy-to-use tool for browsing, analyzing and accessing information.

But the potential applications of such a visualization go even beyond this. One problem that many business owners have is that they have large amounts of data to present to their users and find it difficult to find a workable, manageable solution for that data.

By identifying connections between different fields of data, and creating cohesive networks of linked fields, businesses will find it much easier and more straightforward to give their users the data they need. What’s more, users can browse the connections at leisure, creating their own narratives as they move through the map.

As the volume of data that organizations have to deal with increases, visualization solutions will be increasingly geared towards making that data as insightful, useful and manageable to users as possible. Using data and innovative visualizations to revamp older platforms is just the first step.

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