The Big Board, set & video look-and-feel

_Iron_Man__Downey_Rings_NYSE_Opening_BellI came across this video when looking at opening bell stuff, and the running “heat map” thing that was happening as the bell rings to open the market was kind of fascinating:

S&P 500 Heat Map on opening bell (with Iron Man!)
(not embedded video, click thru on link)

So I became interested in these heat maps as a way of representing market movements. It seems to be a somewhat new way of looking at market data (working on figuring out since when) and maybe a little trendy right now—I first encountered it in some iPad apps for looking at stock performance and tracking your own portfolio.

So what’s a heat map?

A heat map is any data visualization which uses color to represent data values in a two-dimensional image. There are many different types of heat maps used in different disciplines, each refered to by the term “heat map”, even though they use different visualization techniques. Most heat maps use mapping techniques to represent their data rather than charting and graphing techniques, thus providing unique views of data not available in charts and graphs.

(Lab Escape)


Both the color intensity (shifting within a gradient) and size of the boxes indicate relative performance, helping you to easily spot trends or standouts in a quick overview. This type of chart is very useful for showing hidden trends and relationships.


Take this one:

Heat_Map_-_Stock_Market_Research___ShareBuilder.comSo here the colors indicate performance (the standard red = down, green = up) with intensity of color indicating degree of performance in that direction (brighter green means stock up higher, brighter red means price down further.) Size of the rectangle is based on market capitalization (total value of the issued shares).

This one from FinViz looks at different sectors:


Then I think it gets really exciting when you add the dimension of time and watch a time-lapse heat map of performance over a day:

(S&P 500 Real-time Heat Map (change in percent) by Sector)

Or over the course of a month:

(Feb 2011 Heat Map (DataViz))

This video is pretty fascinating in terms of how an expert (in this case a broker) can utilize this data visualization to see hidden trends or extract deeper information from the data. It’s a demo of software to analyze a broker’s order book using heat maps. The explanation is sometimes over my head, but I think I got a surprising amount of it. And around 2:30 he expands the data he’s looking at and the shift is really cool:

I’m just thinking about what other ways we might be able to show the market data of the show — stuff that can be both eye-candy for the space but also genuine visualizations of the data being generated.

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