Flash of Genius: Social Cognition and Data Visualization
JEFFREY HEER Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
The era of big data presents incredible opportunities -- smarter cities, stronger companies, faster medicine -- but just as many challenges. Storage is scarce, systems overloaded, governments and businesses know too much. The world now contains unimaginably vast amounts of digital information, which is growing exponentially. Managed well, this data can be used to engineer new engines of economic value, unlock scientific breakthroughs, and hold politicians accountable. Managed poorly, it can cause great harm.
The financial crisis showed that complex models that analyze large quantities of data do not always reflect financial risk in the real world. The financial crisis was sparked by big data -- and there will be others. But the data deluge will also generate millions of new ideas for how to solve big problems, build new markets, and expand existing ones. Ideas Economy: Information is a fresh look at knowledge management for the information age.
The Economist will bring together theorists, strategists, and innovators who understand how to harness data to create value and advance individual, corporate, and social good. We will sift through the vast quantities of current thinking on data to uncover the best ways forward. And we will apply the lessons of the Ideas Economy, about innovation, human capital, and intelligent infrastructure, to uncover new sources of growth and accelerate human progress across the globe.
Jeffrey Heer is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he works on human-computer interaction, visualization, and social computing. His research investigates the perceptual, cognitive, and social factors involved in making sense of large data collections, resulting in new interactive systems for visual analysis and communication. He also helped lead the design of the Prefuse, Flare, and Protovis visualization toolkits, in use by researchers, corporations, and thousands of data enthusiasts. Dr Heer holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2009 he was named to MIT Technology Review's TR35, a list of leading innovators under the age of 35.