The data-visualization expert Edward Tufte has teamed up with Adam Schwartz, a software engineer and composer, to give the world ImageQuilts, a fascinating and highly-addictive Chrome extension that produces a quilt-like collage comprising images generated by doing a Google search.
The process is simple: once you've added the extension to Chrome, you do an image search on any term of your choice and then click the button next to the search bar labeled "Make ImageQuilt." From there you have to take a screenshot to export it (Command-Shift-4 on Mac OS X). Hopefully they'll make this latter part smoother as they update the sure-to-be-popular app.
Remember when you first saw a word cloud and thought what a brilliant way to present data? Then spent the next several hours (days? weeks?) on wordle generating them? Well, ImageQuilts does for images what WordClouds does for words. Perhaps, like WordClouds, they will become so ubiquitous and sloppily-used that they lose their impact. But, also like WordClouds, the potential for understanding and presenting data is clearly enormous. I'll try to figure out how to employ these for effective data visualization some other day, though. For now, I'm just having fun stitching together ImageQuilts!