Financial Visualizations – sorry, long post & there are quite a few links

Trying to pull this together now – some of these don’t have permission to reproduce so linked.  Haven’t had time yet to really think through attention and memory aspects yet of this project as per mind map but that doesn’t need to be Many Eyes specific. Just wanted to use this post as a reference.

Still trying to think what works well (for both display on a monitor and web browser,  also page loading time, as well as how the brain may process it) or is a variety of these better (multiple devices, multiple brains) – diagrams with pastel colours, diagrams with bolder / sharper contrasting colours, use of photographic images in diagrams,  use of 3D using both, use of animation, use of video etc etc

Also with financial visualization, as per the finance page just created – what needs to be visualized.  Based on everything I have looked at in the last 2 /3 months, there are huge amounts of data visualization in the financial world. Overall stocks, shares, rates, prices are visualized, movements are visualized – but – the majority of things that are traded in the markets are not visible objects – contracts, paper, bonds etc etc I wonder if that makes a human less emotionally attached to the kinds of things that are being traded – because they are not visible, how much of a connection is there – and if the majority of a trading role is looking at volumes and movements…. I don’t know if there is any way to bring – emotion, more human-ness into financial visualization and whether it would produce a positive benefit?

Some examples of  visualizations I recently created:

Many Eyes visualizations

Many Eyes visualizations

 Also, thinking about info ‘clutter’ how eyes process information they are viewing, what is the difference between seeing multiple visualizations and viewing one at a time e.g.

Many Eyes single visualization

Many Eyes single visualization

Many Eyes has the option of a matrix chart which my own lack of data visualization ability means that I have not been able to use it effectively yet. I found one example of a matrix type chart in the WEF Financial Architecture full report Page 49, figure 27 which was useful. I like all the charts in this document actually.

IMF attempt to provide variety with map or bubble chart options

Some other possible financial visualizations or visualizations used in the financial world,  which I haven’t really had much chance to look at but are used:

Heatmaps – The Times , Paul Kedrosky – Infectious Greed one  ,  Financial Times  - shares etc , Heatmap explorer (not downloaded  / looked at this yet)

Candle charts – Lee (another Surrey lecturer) had students complete projects in around 2003 / 4 I think, looking at origins of financial data visualization (FINgrid is one of his personal projects – massive data & news collection, aggregation and visualization but I don’t know what it looks like other than screenshots on Surrey website), including Japanese rice trading – where they used to use actual rice grains to show opening, closing prices etc

I’m sure there are other types I’ve forgotten to mention. Forex have tools (not free)  The pattern site (not free) is more financially specific, but there is also a pattern browser project.  This chart chooser also provides useful information about what types of ones work well.

Use of arrows can be helpful. Why this in a way doesn’t feel like an attractive visualization (also the green / red – visibility contrast for so-called colour blindness or whatever it is called now)  although it is produced by WallStats  because as a PowerPoint using generation we got rid of clip-art, no clip-art  or boring use of flat colour in diagrams in our presentations anymore…just photographic art… its more professional….. It combines both, some part of me wants to scream from a personal design point of view, it shouldn’t work – but for me it does work – very well. Certainly the use of humour, you can identify with personalities – some simple use of text and arrows. Its a visualization which tells a story but not really all the complex data that has been involved ? I’m not sure if that sentence makes sense.

Here are some chart visuals with photos 

http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/bar-chart.html

Just looking at the page, I think (can’t say for sure) that my eyes moved towards the more – glowing, photographic ones.

The BBC combines in audio with photographs as a slideshow I think multimodal presentation may help with sense-making, there is only so much information that can be presented either on a computer screen, a mobile device, or even the huge trading floor screens – and there is only so much visual information that a brain can process in one go. I don’t know enough about how combining audio with a rich visual experience can enhance understanding of complex data – but I’m sure it must do. (Will refer back to Mind Hacks – which has loads of info about this, maybe in a future post).

Some other ways of visualizing financial data:

http://flowingdata.com/2009/01/01/9-ways-to-visualize-consumer-spending/

This design project for the Morning Star attempted to tackle financial visualization complexity – it is visually amazing to look at – more sophisticated than many others I have seen. I showed to Osama (surrey lecturer) whilst we were talking through all the visualizations and he said he liked it but it was too complex for him – he looked at the different images but couldn’t instantly grasp what they were trying to show. In a way I feel the same. I read a paper  last year on how to designing and density but I don’t think I really get it just yet.

I am finding this with things like Wikiviz and Skyrails too – I LOVE looking at them – in fact completely visually wowed by them, but I also find them very complex. They are able to take huge amounts of complex, interlinking data (global markets and other financial data would sit in that category too) and present it in a way that gives something of an instant visual clue but requires more digging in deeper to make more sense of it? So what is the ideal of the WallStats ones, ManyEyes, huge data cluster visualizations – which ones work well and where ?

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