Many Eyes is an experimental data visualization software designed by IBM that turns data presentation into a community activity. The website lets anyone upload data and choose how they want it to be expressed, and then gives people an opportunity to engage in discussions about the data. You can either create a visualization from existing data sets or upload your own data.

This website can be a little daunting at first glance, so it’s easier to navigate if you spend a little time exploring what other people have created before jumping into your own project. You can do that by clicking on any of the options under the “Explore” heading on the left of the page. Here, you can see other people’s visualizations, explore existing data sets uploaded by other users, and take a look at what kinds of discussions have arisen.

Once you are ready to create your own visualization, click on “Create a Visualization”. Many Eyes will walk you through this process in three easy steps. Your first step will be to either choose from an existing data set or to upload your own data.

Your next step is to choose a visualization method. Many Eyes has divided their various visualization options into the following categories: analyze a text, compare a set of values, see relationships among data points, see the parts of a whole,  see the world, or track rises and falls over time. This step is critical to the success of your visualization; you must have a good idea of what you wish to see from your data in order to pick the right visualization tool. Not all of the options are created equal, and not all of the options will visualize your data in the most applicable way!

Once you have chosen your method, Many Eyes will generate a visualization for your data. If you don’t like the way it looks or it wasn’t what you were expecting, you can go back and choose a different method. If you are satisfied with it, you can share it publicly and add tags and descriptions to explain what you’re trying to show. You can also save an image of your visualization to your computer to insert into a document or presentation.

Final product of a Many Eyes visualization

If you have questions about how this software can be used in your research project, or if you need help incorporating it, feel free to stop by Hurst 202!