For Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, the creative duo be
hind HintFM, data visualization is an expressive medium that invites
emotion—their tool of choice for posing scientific, social, and artistic
questions. Their artworks explore the joy of revelation, like the
undeniable energy of seeing a city from the air, of hearing a closely
guarded secret, or of watching a lover slowly undress. Their process is
driven by curiosity, a sense of wonder and adventure for which data is
the staring point, followed by incessant questioning, in hopes of
revealing an abstract world beyond anything the naked eye could
Viégas grew up in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and came to visualization via
the Media Lab at MIT, where she obtained both her M.S. and Ph.D. She
is known for her pioneering work in depicting online chat histories,
email archives and Wikipedia activity, seemingly banal, everyday
activities which she found to be surprisingly emotionally charged.
Wattenberg grew up in Massachusetts, and studied at Brown
University, received an M.S. from Stanford University and obtained
his Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley. Prior to his partnership with
Viégas, Wattenberg worked for Dow Jones and IBM. He arrived at
visualization by way of mathematics, but his work focuses on visual
exploration of culturally significant data that fosters connection, insight,
narrative and beauty. Between the two, they have published more than
30 academic papers, and their work has been featured in both national
and international publications like The Economist, Fast Company,
The New York Times and BusinessWeek.
The pair currently lead Google’s “Big Picture” visualization research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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