Many Eyes

Many Eyes

This article is part of a series on choropleth mapping, to see other solutions, please visit the introduction here.

Many Eyes is a web application that is published by IBM’s AlphaWorks Research Group. I was first made aware of it during winter break, and have not had a chance to put it through its paces. From what I have analyzed it appears to be a community-centric data visualization portal. Users are able to upload their own data sets to IBM’s servers, and then “massage” the data into a format that Many Eyes can interpret and then finally visualize the data in a number of different ways. It resembles the capabilities of MIT’s Exhibit application.
The power in Many Eyes is not just the ability to produce choropleth maps; the most noteworthy function is the ability to see data in many different ways without having to reformat the data. Users can quickly switch between visualizations and select different subsets of data to visualize. The data upload page is probably the highlight of the application. Users can simply cut and paste their data from any source, Word Document, spreadsheet, as long as its text and numbers. Many eyes will then try to reorganize the garble and produce coherent tabular data. In terms of choropleth mapping, at this moment, Many Eyes supports only 14 different countries for specific region/province detail. Users simply have to create an IBM ID and start entering data or select from the large number of data sets that have already been uploaded by others. The interface is uncluttered, and easy to follow instructions are supplied for each step. There is even a screencast tutorial. The primary concern is the fact that Many Eyes is not open source. IBM may in the future decide to turn Many Eyes into a profit bearing product, at which point, it would need to be licensed.


  • Easy to use
  • Maps are a good balance of size and detail
  • Fast
  • Easy data manipulation
  • Large database of existing datasets


  • Closed source
  • Limited # of maps
  • Not exportable to Google Earth

Of the solutions I have worked with, Many Eyes holds the most potential, particularly in the social sciences. I really like the idea of being able to share data as well as visualizations with others. Unlike the other solutions, which are just choropleth mapping apps, Many Eyes is a complete dynamic data visualization application that also can do choropleth maps. There is one drawback however, the visualizations that are produced by many eyes requires the use of the Java Runtime Environment, while powerful, may have compatibility issues because they are not viewable without the installation of the JRE plugin.

ScreenCast Link:

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