Informatics does not have to be boring. There are numerous ways to display data you don’t always have to resort to the pie chart or graph (all though these are the most obvious and probably the most idiot proof) data visualization can be interactive and can be displayed in real-time.

Now you can apply these types of visualizations to just about anything and study it. It can actually be quite fun. For example have a website? Study the traffic. Study every angle of it what people search for, where they are linking from, what their IpAddress is. This is actually an extremely simple example of how to use analytical information derived from informatics process to your advantage. Another thing to ponder is how web sites are setup to display data (usually in simple 2-dimensional displays that our pea sized Brains can digest.) Their are a plethora of tools available to the average user for free to enable them to study website traffic. Here is a list of a shot list of free website analytical tools Google Analytics, AwStats, and Webalizer. Most of you out their are probably hosted on a LAMPP (Linux Apache PHP, Perl, and Python setup like I am most host providers have these tools readily available to you already on your host control panel. I personally use and recommend AwStats I like server log information so AwStats is a must have at the same token you can also use both (and I do). This is of course not ground shaking information to most people.

Google New Data Visualization Api:

You can apply informatics not just to computer log files but also to real human interactions as well. Where is this taking us? The fact of the matter is in today’s society people can be virtually tracked in hundreds of ways. You make ATM transactions pay with credit cards logon to social networks, your cell phone, not to mention the fact every 7eleven store has a video camera etc..

Reality Mining Here is an actual demo of real time data mining this is what the future of your social network could harness for future data miners. This process is mostly automated so in a sense many of the middle men have been removed. Yes it is kind of scary but any internet user / computer user should have enough common sense to know how important your activities on social networks, IM, transactions, etc. are for nobel causes because big brother is already watching you. Anyone who says I don’t care what they know about me I only do things on the web that are of nobel intentions. The reason you should be concerend if for the mining of information for political and religious persecution.

Oh and here is one of my favorite examples of data visualizations generated by a radical group of New York artist and their creative the use of Carnivore. Carnivore was used by the FBI to aid in their data mining efforts in short it is a packet sniffer. Packet sniffer are nothing new in fact large amounts of IT groups use tools like WireShark to monitor their users. With these tools it is easy to detect p2p activity, read instant messages (IM), any plain text sent, web sites users visited etc.. I know that tools like these are used because I have experience in using them. So what does one achieve by using one well your ipAddress for starts.

Information can be harnessed for both good and devious purposes just like any other technology. One thing that I enjoy seeing is the use of informatics to create artistic visualizations in realtime of networks like Diggs Swarm or Virigin’s Eye. Anyone can create a cool data visualization by simply using an assortment of tools like PaperVision3D and SWX one thing I would like to use papervision3d for is a 3D representation of my blog. This is just one tool you could also use John Resig javascript processing library to create some cool visualizations as well not to mention google just released an api that allows people to create data visualizations quickly. Now think of what you can achieve when you combine these tools with social networks.

Highly Creative Data Visualization utilizing informatic techniques:
Carnivore Explanation
digital carnivore
Carnivore How it works
Creative Use of Carnivore
Mit Telecomunications Study
Max Kiesler
Digg Swarm
Chicago Mapped Crime

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other. – by Stewart Brand spoken at the first Hackers’ Conference in 1984