I designed lots of programs and applications @SPSS over the course of 30 years. Some were incredibly boring but utilitarian like SPSS/PC which liberated the researchers and graduate students from ugly, poorly-lit computer centers and off-site computer labs. Others were failed attempts to co-partner with high-flying database vendors (most, now defunct).
The really fun stuff came later because of Moore’s law-like increases in computing power and display technologies. SPSS users would see some really cool chart and want to create that chart. Our goal was to give them the tools and simple applications sitting on top of those tools to move beyond basic scatterplots and pie charts. I’m not sure that we got all that far along in this endeavor before I retired in 2007.
I love cool charts and look for the them on the web all the time. There are some astoundlingly-creative examples of the use of visualizations to describe, explain, and reduce petabytes of info into megabytes of pixels which can accessed through a browser. In future posts I will talk about some of my favorites. To get you interested, here are some links to other sites that aggregate examples of the graphical coolness: FlowingData and Visual Complexity.