Luc Anselin, from Arizona State University, gave a workshop this morning on OpenGeoDa, open source software geared toward social scientists who want something more user-friendly than GIS. Unlike GIS, it doesn’t produce cartographic quality maps. Instead, it is intended to be an easy way to explore spatial data and look for patterns. One of the most interesting features is “brushing,” which allows users to select an area on a map, view a chart of the selected data, and watch the chart change in real time as they move the brush across the map to change the selection. The program also has several data visualization features intended to make patterns easier to identify than they would be on a typical map. A separate program, GeoDaSpace, provides more powerful spatial regression tools that can be used to confirm these relationships. This seems like it would be a fast, intuitive way to explore data.