Tom Carden’s travel time tube map of London enables one to click on any (and all) tube stations in London. The map rearranges itself around the travel time from that spot. What do you see as the potential for information visualizations, say five to ten years from now? Where is it all going? Tom: I think the potential for information visualizations is about three things: more graphics, more mobile, and more collaboration.
Five to ten years from now? Even modest expectations about hardware and network improvements will probably become reality. I think we can expect to add one or two zeroes to the size of the data sets that we can interactively manipulate on our desktops. On the miniature end of the scale, we’ll have something close to today’s desktop capabilities but in our pockets: you only need compare the performance of the iPhone or Android graphics and display with a PC from 1998 to see what I mean.
I think the move of mobile devices to use the same underlying browser technologies as desktops is huge. I think we’ll see an explosion of collaborative/social infoviz now that that has happened, because there’s no need for separate technologies like Java and Flash. When information visualization on the web can be designed and built by the same people as the rest of the page we’ll see more thorough integration with the mainstream web and that can only be a good thing. Google Maps sets great expectations around online mapping and as designers we need to make software that does that for all kinds of data, not only maps.