Christian Chabot: The Future of Data Visualization

Published on21 MAY 2014

Christian Chabot, co-founder and chief executive officer of data visualization company Tableau Software, discusses recent developments in data analytics.

On the evolution of data: “From the dawn of civilization until 2003, we generated five billion gigabytes of data, and now we produce that much every 10 minutes. The first technology for data was wood and bone. We then moved to papyrus and parchment and then finally to books, which existed for a long time as our primary data technology. In the modern age we began to build machines, but we still couldn’t use data to make fundamentally new discoveries. Now, the dream of the database is that it becomes a tool for producing knowledge.”

On the importance of visual data: “We’ve created a visual query language designed to work with databases in a way that amplifies the power of our minds. Our brains are inherently visual, and the visual processing center of our brains is incredibly powerful. As most of us form questions incrementally, the language has been designed to give you incremental composition of questions you have, which results in a [necessary] flexibility. Embracing that flexibility is how great thinking occurs.”

On the convergence of system intelligence and human intelligence: “Steve Jobs himself said that the dream of the computer is that it’s a bicycle for the mind. We are more optimistic about investing in ways to help people navigate information they are seeking, as opposed to automatically spitting out the [information] they should be seeking.”


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