Data Insights: New Ways to Visualize and Make Sense of Data offers thought-provoking insights into how visualization can foster a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of data. The book offers perspectives from people with different backgrounds, including data scientists, statisticians, painters, and writers. It argues that all data is useless, or misleading, if we do not know what it means. Organized into seven chapters, the book explores some of the ways that data visualization and other emerging approaches can make data meaningful and therefore useful. It also discusses some fundamental ideas and basic questions in the data lifecycle; the process of interactions between people, data, and displays that lead to better questions and more useful answers; and the fundamentals, origins, and purposes of the basic building blocks that are used in data visualization. The reader is introduced to tried and true approaches to understanding users in the context of user interface design, how communications can get distorted, and how data visualization is related to thinking machines. Finally, the book looks at the future of data visualization by assessing its strengths and weaknesses. Case studies from business analytics, healthcare, network monitoring, security, and games, among others, as well as illustrations, thought-provoking quotes, and real-world examples are included. This book will prove useful to computer professionals, technical marketing professionals, content strategists, Web and product designers, and researchers.

Key Features

  • Demonstrates, with a variety of case studies, how visualizations can foster a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of data
  • Answers the question, "How can data visualization help me?" with discussions of how it fits into a wide array of purposes and situations
  • Makes the case that data visualization is not just about technology; it also involves a deeply human process


Technical marketing professionals and researchers, content strategists, web and product designers, computer professionals and researchers that need to present data in an easy to understand way

Table of Contents

  • Dedication
  • Preface
    • Sandboxes and Museum Cases
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • Chapter 1. From Terabytes to Insights
    • Introduction: A Grander View
    • Things That Make Us Smarter: How Thoughtful Visualizations can make our Lives Better
    • Don’t Be Afraid of the Chart
    • PEER AT the World of Data
    • From Data to Wisdom
    • A Day with Data
    • The Torrents and Trickles of Data: Observations from Statistician John Bosley
    • Cascades of Confusion
    • The Data Lifecycle
    • “Just the Facts”: What are Data and Metadata?
    • What to Leave in and What to Leave Out: A Conversation with Journalism Professor and Tech Entrepreneur, Len Sellers
    • What Counts?
    • The Ripple Effect
    • Attributes of Data Visualization
    • Diving into the Well of Machine Data with Splunk Cio Doug Harr
    • Deep Simplicity (Complex Data in Simple Forms)
    • What’s New?!
  • Chapter 2. A More Beautiful Question
    • The Art of Inquiry
    • Good Question
    • Washington, D.C.’s 1100 Points of Light
    • Twenty Questions
    • Patterns, Contexts, and Questions
    • Designing Software for When You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
    • The Questions within a Question
    • Knowing What You’ve Got
    • Questions and Metadata
    • Quick Questions
    • Finding “Personal Bests” (Based on Work by Information Scientist, Dan Gillman)
    • Lowering the “Curiosity Tax” for Businesses
    • Asking Good Questions
    • Approaching Data with a Beginner’s Mind
    • TMD (Too Much Data)?
    • A More Beautiful Question
  • Chapter 3. Winning Combinations: Working with the Ingredients of Data Visualization
    • Just the Right Mix
    • Counter intelligence: Figuring Out what to


No. of pages:
© 2012
Morgan Kaufmann
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the author

Hunter Whitney

Hunter Whitney is a User Experience (UX) Designer who has helped create useful and usable interface designs for clients in areas ranging from bioscience and medicine to information technology and marine biology. In addition to his UX work, he has written numerous articles about a range of subjects, including data visualization, for various online and print publications. His aim is to encourage conversations among people with diverse skills and perspectives about presenting data in ways that are more widely accessible and engaging. He received dual bachelor’s degrees—one in English Literature from UCLA and the other in Biology from UCSC—and has completed post-graduate neuropsychology research at UCLA. The combination of these multidisciplinary studies reflects his longstanding interest in the intersection between the humanities and the sciences (

Affiliations and Expertise

Hunter Whitney is a User Experience (UX) Designer who has helped create useful and usable interface designs for clients in areas ranging from bioscience and medicine to information technology and marine biology.


"Whitney has developed deep expertise in data visualization in particular and user interface design in general over many years of experience…Not only does Whitney write well, he’s also designed a book that supports the principles of design that he advocates. The book is beautiful…This is a fine book that adds real value to the field of data visualization. I recommend it highly to anyone who wants to become a skilled and effective practitioner."--Visual Business Intelligence blog, February 11, 2014
"Hunter Whitney thoughtfully interprets 20 years of technical successes in information visualization for a broader audience.  He tells the grand story of scientific breakthroughs in an engaging way for a wide audience, packed with thought-provoking quotes and eye-catching examples that powerfully present this profound advance in human capacity for insight."--Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland