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Dr. Dave Warner at the 2014 Analyst Forum: Dots are Stupid


On July 30th in northern Virginia, some of the greatest minds in analytics for business, outcomes, and mission impact gathered to share their lessons learned and experiences with data analytics. Academia, government, and industry came together to provide a comprehensive approach to investigating how we can better extract knowledge from information.

The event was the 2014 Analyst Forum, a joint activity between the United Stated Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) and our AnalystOne.com site (for an overview of the entire event see our recap here).

Dave Warner, with an MD and PhD in physio-informatics from Loma Linda University, contributed huge insights to the conference with his unique perspective as a neuroscientist.


With his research Dr. Warner has studied the interactions between the brain and computer – investigating the means by which we can maximize the quality, quantity, and speed of data communication between humans and machines.

Dr. Warner provided the example of improving the visualization of land mine detection. Working to improve the interface between humans conducting land mine detection and the detection devices themselves, Dr. Warner reported that land mine detection can be improved eighty-fold, just by applying neuroscience knowledge to the existing technology!

Vis-à-vis how humans currently display and perceive graphical information, Dr. Warner argued, “Dots are stupid.”  In a single moment, the human brain can perceive hundreds of visual qualities, including height, length, speed, shape, size, color, texture, etc. Dr. Warner illustrated this point with several multidimensional graphs that communicated dozens of different pieces of data in a single pass.

One graph simultaneously displayed the speed, heart rate, latitude, longitude, and altitude of a mountain biker; another conveyed the time, frequency, location, magnitude, and cause of violent conflicts in an unstable region.

Dr. Warner’s focus – the importance of representing information in an understandable – can provide insights to anyone in the field of data analytics. While the current wealth of data presents scores of opportunities, aggregating and displaying the information efficiently deserves a great deal of attention.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com