I've read two articles by an editor over at O'reilly, Mike Loukides that I've liked a lot.  What's cool is they offer a layperson's intro to data topics, but then quickly accelerate to specifics, practicalities and examples.

The first is "What is Data Science?": http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/06/what-is-data-science.html

The second is "Data as a service": http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/07/data-as-a-service.html

In this second story, he talks about visualization.  There clearly has been an explosion of info visualization out on the web.  Much much of it unremarkable.  But he cites a super beautiful example that Ben Fry and company did for GE about aging: http://www.ge.com/visualization/aging/

Annie Jo pointed out that it's a Java Applet.  Slide that bar back and forth on the bottom and watch how SMOOOTH it is…..