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Martin M. Wattenberg

martin m. wattenberg
History Flow, Many Eyes, Treemap algorithms,

Social Data Analysis Notable awards Gold award / ID Magazine Interactive Design 1999, Creative Capital grantee 2006, TR100 2003

Martin M Wattenberg b 1970 is an American scientist and artist known for his work with data visualization Along with Fernanda Viégas, he worked at the Cambridge location of IBM's Thomas J Watson Research Center as part of the Visual Communication Lab, and created Many Eyes In April 2010, Wattenberg and Viégas started a new venture called Flowing Media, Inc, to focus on visualization aimed at consumers and mass audiences Four months later, both of them joined Google as the co-leaders of the Google's "Big Picture" data visualization group in Cambridge, MA


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Journalism
  • 3 Visualization research
    • 31 Collaborative analysis and collective intelligence
    • 32 Visualization techniques and theory
  • 4 Artwork
  • 5 Publications
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Wattenberg grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts He received an AB from Brown University in 1991, an MS from Stanford University in 1992, and PhD in Mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1996 From 1996 through 2002, he lived in New York City and worked for Dow Jones, on the personal finance and investing site SmartMoneycom In 2002 he took a position at IBM's Thomas J Watson Research Center, in its Cambridge, Massachusetts location; in 2004, he founded IBM Research's Visual Communication Lab


While at SmartMoneycom, Wattenberg focused on new forms of interactive web-based journalism Early work in 1996-1997 ranged from service pieces, such as worksheets to guide financial decisions, to expository graphical narratives on subjects such as bond yield curves In 1998 Wattenberg created the Map of the Market, which visualized the stock price performance of hundreds of publicly traded companies The Map was the first web-based treemap and was widely imitated Subsequently, Wattenberg started a research and development group at SmartMoney, which was responsible for interactive charts, graphs, and simulations, as well as a library of visualization components Outside of his work at Dow Jones, Wattenberg is known for interactive visualizations that have introduced mass audiences to data sets ranging from baby names to museum collections at NASA and the Smithsonian

Visualization research

Collaborative analysis and collective intelligence

Wattenberg, in partnership with Fernanda Viégas at IBM, has published widely on collective intelligence and the social use of data visualization Their work with visualizations such as History Flow and Chromogram led to some of the earliest publications on the dynamics of Wikipedia, including the first scientific study of the repair of vandalism

Wattenberg is one of the founders of IBM's experimental Many Eyes web site, created in 2007 which seeks to make visualization technology accessible to the public In addition to broad uptake from individuals, the technology from Many Eyes has been used by nonprofits and news outlets such as the New York Times Visualization Lab

Visualization techniques and theory

Wattenberg invented or co-invented many visualization techniques The Map of the Market was based on a new algorithm for treemap layouts see Treemapping The Arc Diagram is a novel technique for visualizing structure in long sequences, closely related to linear embeddings of networks, a technique that has since been used by many other designers Wattenberg and Viégas together introduced several techniques for depicting text: in addition to the history flow technique described above, the two created such text visualizations as the Word Tree and Chromogram


As an artist, Wattenberg uses interactive graphics and visualization as expressive media He has primarily worked on internet-accessible projects, but has also created installations, videos, and prints

In the 1990s he began to work with information visualization as an artistic medium For example, his Shape of Song series 1999–2002 depicted the form of musical compositions; this project exists online as well as in prints that have been exhibited in multiple venues Starrynight 1999, a collaboration with Alexander Galloway and Mark Tribe, provided a new form of social, visual navigation for an online discussion Idealine 2001, an interactive representation of the online art universe, was the first internet artwork commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as a very early example of an artwork that used "crowdsourcing" to gather data Wattenberg has also worked with Golan Levin, contributing to the visualization technique used in The Secret Lives of Numbers 2002

Wattenberg frequently works with Marek Walczak, with whom he formed a collaboration known as MW2MW A key theme of their work is the relationship between language and space For example, Apartment took inspiration from the concept of a memory palace, turning free-form text entered by a viewer into an architectural floorplan The piece has appeared in many versions, including online 2000, an installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art 2001 and in many other venues Other works explore the possibilities of interaction: the Thinking Machine series 2004–2008, for example, is based on a chess- playing program that attempts to best the viewer while displaying its own thinking process

Since 2003, Wattenberg has collaborated with Fernanda Viégas to create interactive works that evoke the joy of "revelation" They have used academic techniques such as history flow to create prints that have been shown in venues such as the New York Museum of Modern Art The two have also created purely artistic visualizations For example, the Fleshmap series 2008- 2009 portrays aspects of sensuality, and includes work on the web, video, and installations For example, Fleshmap: Touch provides a collective view of erogenous zones, while Fleshmap: Listen visualizes the language used to describe the body in song lyrics


Key publications:

  • 2007: Many Eyes: A Site for Visualization at Internet Scale Fernanda B Viégas, Martin Wattenberg, Frank van Ham, Jesse Kriss, Matt McKeon IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization
  • 2005: Baby Names, Visualization, and Social Data Analysis Martin Wattenberg IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization
  • 2004: Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations Fernanda B Viégas, Martin Wattenberg, and Kushal Dave ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction CHI
  • 2002: Ordered and quantum treemaps: Making effective use of 2D space to display hierarchies Ben Bederson, Ben Shneiderman, and Martin Wattenberg ACM Transactions on Graphics, Vol 21, No 4


  1. ^ "A New Chapter — Visual Hint" Hintfm Retrieved 2010-09-04 
  2. ^ "That was fast! — Visual Hint" Hintfm Retrieved 2010-09-04 
  3. ^ "Fernanda B Viégas" Fernandaviegascom 2008-08-31 Retrieved 2010-09-04 
  4. ^ a b Jana, Reena June 2007 "IBM's Data-Visualization Champion" BusinessWeek Online 
  5. ^ Kirsner, Scott December 2007 "Image Conscious" Fast Company 
  6. ^ Eckett, Stephen 2002 Online Investing: 200 Essential Q&a's for the Internet Harriman House Limited 
  7. ^ Baker, Billy 9 August 2001 "He Creates Ways of Seeing Information" The Boston Globe 
  8. ^ Mirapaul, Matthew 9 August 2001 "A Site Whose Riches Bob on the Surface" The New York Times 
  9. ^ 2004: Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations Fernanda B Viégas, Martin Wattenberg, and Kushal Dave ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction CHI
  10. ^ Shirky, Clay 2008 Here Comes Everybody Penguin 
  11. ^ Lines and Bubbles and Bars, Oh My! New Ways to Sift Data, Anne Eisenberg, the New York Times, August 30, 2008
  12. ^ Arc Diagrams: Visualizing Structure in Strings, Martin Wattenberg IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization, 2002
  13. ^ Visual Complexity Gallery of Arc Diagrams, accessed Sept 2, 2009
  14. ^ The Word Tree: An Interactive Visual Concordance Martin Wattenberg, Fernanda B Viégas IEEE InfoVis 2008
  15. ^ Visualizing Activity on Wikipedia with Chromograms, Martin Wattenberg, Fernanda B Viégas, and Kate Hollenbach Interact 2007
  16. ^ Reas, Casey; Ben 2007 Processing: a programming handbook for visual designers and artists MIT Press 
  17. ^ Dodge, Martin; Kitchin 2007 Atlas of Cyberspace Addison Wesley 
  18. ^ Whitney Museum Artport Idealine, 2001
  19. ^ The Secret Lives of Numbers 2002
  20. ^ Bulajic, Viktorija Vesna 2007 Database aesthetics: art in the age of information overflow University of Minnesota Press  line feed character in |publisher= at position 25 help
  21. ^ MW2MW home page
  22. ^ Blais, Joline; Ippolito, Jon 2006 At the Edge of Art Thames and Hudson 
  23. ^ Altshuler, Bruce 2007 Collecting the New: Museums and Contemporary Art Princeton University Press 
  24. ^ Kurzweil, Ray 2005 The singularity is near: when humans transcend biology Penguin 
  25. ^ Adams, Randy; Gibson, Steve; Arisona, Stefan Muller 2008 Transdisciplinary Digital Art: Sound, Vision and the New Screen: Digital Art Springer 
  26. ^ Revelatory Interfaces, online video of MIT lecture, 2004
  27. ^ Design and the Elastic Mind Exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art, February 24, 2008–May 12, 2008
  28. ^ Inside squash: art and sport confined, Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, April 29, 2009
  29. ^ Body Parts In Song: From Hands To Eyes NPR Weekend Edition, August 30, 2008

External links

  • Martin Wattenberg Personal home page for Wattenberg
  • Academic publications listed on IBM's site
  • Many Eyes Experimental public visualization site
  • SmartMoney Map of the Market
  • History flow Project page for Wikipedia visualizations
  • Name Voyager Visualization of baby names
  • Fleshmap Site for the "Fleshmap" series of artworks
  • Google+ Ripples

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