Thoughts on the Launch of Visual.ly
Visual.ly is a wildly successful startup promising to connect the public to publishers, designers and data. Stewart Langille, the CEO behind it all, launched the company in April and already has a serious roster of partnerships with major media producers. Visually has received a good deal of funding, 65,000 signups for access and has about 18000 twitter followers. It’s success proved a little overwhelming during launch when the amount of traffic brought down the site several times over.
While the current Visual.ly is still only a beta version of what the fully launched site will be, it does give off some strong signals about how it will operate as a community in the data visualization / infographics space. In the future it plans to make one of its main features a visualization engine that automates a good deal of the process of designing infographics. There isn’t much detail on this yet but it is another in a growing trend of site’s “democratizing” and automating the creation if data visualization (see the upcoming launch of visualize.me)
For the initial launch the site focuses on indexing infographics from its many media partners including GOOD, National Geographic, and The Atlantic. The site will also index visualizations from users who want to add content to the site and have their work seen. Visual.ly already boasts over 2000 indexed visualizations making it the largest community for infographics at its launch. As some folks pointed out on twitter, the one thing to keep and eye on is Visually’s terms of service. The terms used some interesting language visualized by Periscopic here. The ability the service “fully exploit user submissions” makes the site feel less like it’s indexing visualizations for search and more like it’s consuming them for re-distribution.
There have also been concerns over the initial lack of visualizations with interactive elements and those displaying large amounts of data. Since the launch the data visualization community has been discussing the new site while a broader audience was twitterizing themselves and posting the results to Facebook. Many of the visualizations listed so far look to me like products of what Enrico Bertini calls “visualization consumerism.“
Robert Kosara of eagereyes is on the advisory board and says the site obviously has a lot of plans to expand and include a more diverse base of visualizations. Looking at the company itself, however, it’s easy to see where the social media / marketing influence the site displays originates from.
It’s has only been a day since the launch of the site and clearly its influence and role in the data visualization community will continue to be defined by its users, staff and by the technology it produces. The data visualization community as well as infographics lovers everywhere will pay close attention to brand in the future.