Visualization for the masses is a topic that has gained a lot of attraction in the InfoVis community in recent years, e.g. in projects such as IBM ManyEyes. The goal is to enable a wide user population to leverage information visualization technology to understand large amounts of data. This could potentially help them make more informed decisions, and is especially promising as more and more data becomes available (see open data). However, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed so that visualization for the masses can become a reality, ranging from limited visual literacy to insufficient tool support.
Together with Melanie Tory and Margaret-Anne Storey, I investigated how information visualization novices construct visualizations in a laboratory setting. Our research paper "How Information Visualization Novices Construct Visualizations" was accepted for presentation at IEEE InfoVis 2010.
Here is the abstract of our paper: Download Technical Report