I often find, that with large data sets, you can easily become inundated with data, and not see trends or outliers. You can try and alleviate this this distraction of too much data, by providing drill through, or visualizations on subsets of the data, however that requires a lot of forethought, and limits the user to look only at what you’ve determined as important. Another option is to progressively display the chronology of the data. Admittedly this second technique is restricted to data that has a natural chronological or hierarchical order, but can help provide context and scale to the data.This first example shows the average min and max temperature for USA from 1901 to 2012 shown chronologically. In this second example you can see the density of the recorded world population from 1600 to today.
Both examples leverage animation in their display of the data. This can be a powerful tool when used appropriately. This blog isn’t about how to determine whether it is appropriate or not, this post is just to show what’s possible. I’ll write up a separate tutorial to show you how to create flash and HTML5 animations, but for now, here is a fun implementation of animation in my starting point for an “Angry Birds” game in Xcelsius.