When you’ve got good data, heat maps can be a particularly gorgeous way to take it all in. Following links back from Paul Kedrosky’s blog to Valleywag and then Zillow, I came across these beautiful real estate price heat maps of some of the most expensive places on the planet. The folks at Zillow have worked out the price per square foot of real estate in Seattle and most of the San Francisco Bay Area. The images are remarkable, and if you know the areas covered, you can linger over them for a long time, making up stories about why houses cost so much over there but not over there. I’ve decided that’s the acid test for really great data presentation: can you pore over it for hours making up stories? If the answer is yes, then you’re on to something big.