Data Visualization is a part, very significant part, of the big data story. The human brain, through its 100 billion neurons each interconnected 10,000 times, has an absolutely amazing visual processing capability, which is arguably surpassed by none. So leveraging this ability should not come as a surprise when thinking about the human component in the quadrication of big data.
Paul Butler, a FaceBook intern, discovered this earthly visualization using R, an open source statistical application. Based on around 10 million samples of Friends relationships taken from FaceBook’s Hadoop Apache Hive (data warehouse system for Hadoop), he was able to plot the weights for each pair of cities as a function of the Euclidean distance between them and the number of their respective friends. The result is this astonishing image of the earth. By the way, notice anything missing in the geographical location where China normally resides?
Here is another awesome image, this time created by Eric Fischer using a heat map (a type of visualization tool) of places with Flickr photographs and Tweets. While Twitter and Flickr may not individually have enough users to create a map so detailed as the FaceBook image, but put them together, and there’s a wealth of information that can be discovered in all of its glory.
Data visualization is a powerful exploratory tool that should be exploited as early as possible when working to monetize your big data. Do not assume away discoveries just because you don’t know what you don’t know (third level of knowledge). Let the data take your brain on an unguided journey where discovery is the ultimate destination.