Monday, September 15, 2003

Treemaps are a powerful data presentation technique that can simplify understanding huge volumes of information. For example, Sequoia is a disk mapping tool that can show you where your disk space is going. SmartMoney's Map of the Market shows the performance of the entire stock market. Now, The Hive Group uses treemaps to show us products from Amazon: Honeycomb/Amazon Shopping. (more..) [Ned Batchelder]
Map of the Market has long been one of my favorite tools for casual analysis of various trends within markets. With it, I am able to view market changes over time, subdivided by segment, in a much more efficient and evocative fashion than with any other tool I have found. The The Hive Group -- an organization I clearly need to pay more attention to -- have applied their HoneyComb technology to Amazon via Amazon's Web Services API.

The end result is Honeycomb/ Shopping which provides a "map of the market" style summary of different categories of products. It is unfortunate that only those folks that buy a particular product on amazon end up reviewing it because it results in reviews that are generally weighted to 4 and 5 stars. As such, "Customer Review" is not a terribly useful dimension.

TreeMaps (history of: includes many, many links to related resources) are compelling because they compress several dimensions-- sometimes many-- into a form that can be rendered and navigated within two dimensions. To relate TreeMaps to fractal geometry, a TreeMap is of 2.5 dimensions -- that is, the graphical representation is clearly two dimensions, but the data being displayed has a depth and representation that is more akin to 3 dimensions or beyond.

Neat stuff.

Update: JameCo (electronic component supply house that I have ordered from in the past) uses a TreeMap to compare power supplies.

Peet's Coffee also uses Honeycomb technology for their Coffee Selector.
10:44:25 AM  pontificate