Government // Leadership
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5/8/2012
02:47 PM
Eric  Lundquist
Eric Lundquist
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NASA Blue Marble Project: Visual Data Lessons

What can IT leaders learn from the visualization techniques NASA used to create the Blue Marble earth images? Check out our video interview with one of the project's key developers.

NASA has its hands full of big data as it looks not only outward through its Earth Observatory, but also back toward our planet. NASA's earthbound look is most visible in its Blue Marble project, which gained recognition when Apple chose the Earth image for its default iPhone opening screen.

At InformationWeek's recent Government IT Leadership Forum, I had the opportunity to interview Robert Simmon, data visualizer and designer for NASA's Earth Observatory and a key developer of the Blue Marble project.

Simmon wrote about his experience developing the Earth image in his blog, but I wanted to explore what his experiences could teach CIOs about how to visualize the big data they need to analyze.

Imagine taking about 10,000 images of the earth. How would you go about making a visual representation that would make sense to the observer? Creating visual images to accompany big data analysis is, I believe, the next big thing in the data game. While much of the data analysis discussion has focused on developing new methods to collect and crunch huge databases of weather information, population statistics, and so forth, the question of how to make that crunched data visible and comprehensible to executives and customers has not really been on the main stage.

In the interview, Simmon offers advice on how to create interesting and visual representations of those enormous databases while also making sure you are not reinventing techniques that are already in place.

See the entire interview here:

Eric Lundquist,
VP and Editorial Analyst, InformationWeek
elundquist@techweb.com

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