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IBM Launches "Many Eyes," an Innovative Collaborative Service for Visual Representation of Data


Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 02:40 AM

As part of an ongoing effort to deliver social computing software, IBM launched "Many Eyes," an innovative new service that allows people to explore different visual representations of large amounts of data and share it with others to help them collectively make better sense of the information.

Frequently business users need to analyze complex data. Visualization is well suited to this task but traditionally, it has been carried out in isolation. Many Eyes supports collaborative analysis around the visualizations of data. By drawing on the insight and expertise of users all across the Internet, Many Eyes can provide broader and deeper analyses of data.

Created by IBM Research's Visual Communications Lab, Many Eyes is available as a service on IBM's alphaWorks Services website (http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes), which was established to allow early users access to emerging software services from IBM research and development labs.

"Many Eyes aims to democratize visualization by providing a forum for any users of the site to explore, discuss, and collaborate on visual content," said Irene Greif, IBM Fellow and Director, Collaborative User Experience, IBM Research. "The result is a process of social data analysis beyond just the visualization."

At the core, Many Eyes will be a collection of user-generated data visualizations. Each visualization will allow for an active discussion to take place and become a common area to share ideas, add insight and understand the visualization in a group setting.

Currently, the site presents a set of interactive visualizations that provide insight into a variety of topics -- from cereal nutrition data to the fertility rates of countries worldwide. The visualizations are created from simple sets of data and visitors are able to upload new data sets and create their own visualizations. Users can simply upload data from cutting and pasting from their own Excel spreadsheets or tab/comma delimited text files.

Many Eyes is available free of charge on IBM's alphaWorks Services site, giving early adopters access to this emerging technology at its earliest stages of development and providing a central repository for exchange of views and feedback. By offering the data visualization community a collaborative platform for sharing knowledge, Many Eyes will empower users to explore data visualization in new and exciting ways.

For example, a government agency could use this tool to help them understand factors that may indicate potential recipients of governmental aid. Using data visualization, the agency can upload data sets and produce charts to determine how certain factors, such as living in an area frequented by natural disasters, income range, or possible layoffs in a certain job field, come together to provide significant predictive analysis. By presenting the data in a visual manner, Many Eyes can help individuals and businesses use complex data to make smarter and more accurate decisions.

alphaWorks Services allows organizations to accelerate the pace of adopting cutting-edge technologies by leveraging a software-as-a-service delivery model, promoting collaborative innovation among users, eliciting immediate feedback to help IBM shape these technologies and deliver them to the marketplace more rapidly, and ultimately helping businesses remain on the forefront of advanced technologies. To access Many Eyes on alphaWorks Services, visit: http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes.



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