Good visualizations of data probably light up entirely different synapses in the brain than almost anything else. I have long wondered just how truly useful they are, though. Over the past few weeks, I've been convinced that online maps in particular are a very important development.
GoogleMaps is a powerful new tool that people all around the world are utilizing for a wide variety of projects. The system is highly functional, integrates data and imagery beautifully and is very nice to look at at the same time. It is also very welcoming for people who want to manipulate maps to visualize their data.
A class of web sites called GoogleMaps Mashups first hit the public consciousness in the form of housingmaps.com, a dynamic integration of housing rental information from the online classified ads site Craig's List and maps of the housing locations via GoogleMaps.
The Net 2 case studies include a number of inspiring uses of the GoogleMaps system.