Transforming Opaque Data into an Immersive Experience

Kirk Chritton at Microsoft

My guest article for the Microsoft PowerBI blog was released today. It also includes the video that MCH CEO Peter Long and I appear in.

It’s a bit odd to summarize myself, but the basic gist of the piece is that data visualization tools like Microsoft’s PowerMap transform grey rows of data into immersive images that reveal the patterns that our eyes and brains are wired to understand. MCH Strategic Data is using these tools to help our clients gain new insights into the business-to-institution marketplace.

In the early days, our “database” of school principals consisted of metal Addressograph plates sorted into long trays. “Visualizing our data” meant looking at the green cabinet where the plates were stored.

Modern data visualization tools are the key to bringing the bits and bytes into view. Hidden patterns transform into revealing animated images that quickly convey meaning and insight.

These tools breathe life into our data just as CGI has revolutionized Hollywood animation. If MCH’s old Addressograph plates were the equivalent of stacks of hand-drawn animation cels used to generate the earliest cartoons, then the impact of visualized data is like James Cameron immersing us in a 3-D IMAX movie.

It’s been great fun to work with Microsoft on the video and blog, and it’s been even more fun to explore MCH’s data using PowerMap.

Adventures with Microsoft

Kirk Chritton at Microsoft
My Microsoft screen debut.

MCH’s relationship with Microsoft has truly blossomed. We’ve been working closely with the product team that’s developing PowerMap and other tools in the Power BI suite. In fact, CEO Peter Long and I traveled to Redmond this fall to record a video for the Microsoft folks.

After a few rounds of edits, it’s really powerful. Now we’re just waiting for the big reveal, and I’m dying to share it. As soon as it gets the green light, I’ll post it here. Watch. This. Space.

Helen Slater Interview

I was pleased to interview actress Helen Slater at Planet Comicon 2010. She is an amazing actress who was one of most popular stars of the ’80s and ’90s, with lead roles in films including Supergirl, The Secret of My Success, Ruthless People, and City Slickers. In this conversation, we cover her career and the movies she’s made with actors like Peter O’Toole, Bette Midler, Christian Slater, and Michael J. Fox.

Thanks to Jason P. Hunt and the team at for recording and posting this interview.