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Fernanda Viegas

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Title: Fernanda Viegas  
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Fernanda Viegas

Fernanda Viégas
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality Brazilian
Fields visualization, design, interactive art, journalism
Institutions IBM Research
Alma mater Ph.D. Media Arts & Sciences, MIT Media Laboratory
Known for History Flow, Many Eyes, Chat Circles

Fernanda Bertini Viégas is a Brazilian scientist and designer whose work focuses on the social, collaborative, and artistic aspects of information visualization. Viégas received a Ph.D. in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab in 2005. The same year she began work at the Cambridge, Massachusetts location of IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center as part of the Visual Communication Lab. In April 2010, she and Martin M. Wattenberg started a new venture called Flowing Media, Inc., to focus on visualization aimed at consumers and mass audiences.[1] Four months later, both of them joined Google as the co-leaders of the Google's "Big Picture" data visualization group in Cambridge, MA.[2][3]

Social visualization

Viégas began her research while at the MIT Media Lab, focusing on graphical interfaces for online communication. Her Chat Circles system introduced ideas such as proximity-based filtering of conversation and a visual archive of chat history displaying the overall rhythm and form of a conversation.[4] Her email visualization designs (including PostHistory and Themail) are the foundation for many other systems; her findings on how visualizations are often used for storytelling influenced subsequent work on the collaborative aspects of visualization.[5] While at MIT, she also studied usage of Usenet and blogs.[6]

Collective intelligence and public visualization

A second stream of work, in partnership with Martin Wattenberg, centers on collective intelligence and the public use of data visualization.

Her work with visualizations such as History Flow and Chromogram led to some of the earliest publications on the dynamics of World Heritage Encyclopedia, including the first scientific study of the repair of vandalism.[7]

Viégas is one of the founders of IBM's experimental Many Eyes web site, created in 2007,[8][9] which seeks to make visualization technology accessible to the public. In addition to broad uptake from individuals, the technology from Many Eyes has been used by nonprofits and news outlets such as the New York Times Visualization Lab.[10]


Viégas is also known for her artistic work, which uses the medium of visualization for explorations of emotionally charged data. An early example is Artifacts of the Presence Era, an interactive installation at the Boston Center for the Arts in 2003, which featured a video-based timeline of visitor interactions with the museum. The Fleshmap series (started in 2008) uses visualization to portray aspects of sensuality, and includes work on the web, video, and installations. which displays continuously updated forecasts of wind patterns across the United States.


  • Chat Circles. Fernanda B. Viégas and Judith Donath. ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI), 1999
  • Persistent Conversations, Judith Donath, Karrie Karahalios and Fernanda B. Viégas . Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, Number 4, June 1999
  • Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations. Fernanda B. Viégas, Martin Wattenberg, and Kushal Dave. ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI), 2004
  • Many Eyes: A Site for Visualization at Internet Scale. Fernanda B. Viégas, Martin Wattenberg, Frank van Ham, Jesse Kriss, Matt McKeon. IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization, 2007


External links

  • Fernanda B. Viégas Personal home page for Viégas
  • Academic publications listed on IBM's site.
  • Many Eyes Experimental public visualization site.
  • History flow Project page for World Heritage Encyclopedia visualizations.
  • Chat Circles Graphical chat environment.
  • Fleshmap Site for the "Fleshmap" series of artworks.
  • Google+ Ripples Article about the Ripples project.
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