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IEEE Visualization Graphics Technical CommitteeIEEEIEEE CS

Tuesday, 4:15PM - 5:55PM:

InfoVis as Seen by the World Out There: 2007 in Review
Stephen Few, Perceptual Edge and the University of California, Berkeley

Stephen Few portrait Abstract

How we as insiders see and understand InfoVis is quite different from how it is seen by most people in the world out there. Most people get only glimpses of what we do, and those glimpses rarely tell the story clearly. Think about the view of InfoVis that has been created in 2007 through marketing, blogs, and articles. This view is peppered with misperception. In this presentation, I'll take you on a tour of InfoVis's exposure in 2007: the highlights and the failures that have shaped the world's perception of our beloved and important work. The world needs what we do, but this need remains largely unsatisfied.


Stephen Few is not your typical InfoVis professional. After getting an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies, he went on to get an advanced degree in Religious Studies rather than Computer Science or any of the other disciplines that are usually associated with InfoVis. This might account for the religious fervor that he brings to his work. Few has spent the last 25 years immersed in the world of business, helping people through teaching, writing, journalism, and consulting to make better use of their data. As such, he brings a critical eye and practical concerns to InfoVis, constantly asking the questions: "Does it really work and does it really matter?"

Few is the author of two books: Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, which is used as a textbook in several InfoVis courses, and Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data. He is currently working on his third book, entitled Now You See It: Simple Graphing Techniques for Exploring and Analyzing Quantitative Data. Today, as Principal of the consultancy Perceptual Edge, he spends most of his time helping business people with the basics: simple and practical visual skills for understanding and presenting quantitative information. He writes the monthly Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter, blogs frequently and stridently, and teaches in the MBA program at the University of California, Berkeley.