The Art of Data Visualization

PBS digital studios recently released a short video on data visualization. It does a great job of explaining what visualization is, and touches on the origins of our capacity to process visual information. It goes on to examine data visualization’s position in our modern culture, and muses about the future role of visualizing data in our society. Some of the industry’s most respected scholars are interviewed and offer us valuable and insightful knowledge. Edward Tufte, for example, talks about the history of visualization, and what it has meant in the past: “The history of visualizing data is very substantially a history of science.” -Edward Tufte Julie Steele talks about what issues are involved in creating data visualizations, and some of why visual information is so easily processed by humans: “We had to recognize those patterns right away and make snap decisions on them, in order to survive.” -Julie Steele Josh Smith covers addresses the process of creating successful infographics. He emphasizes the importance of telling the story that is in the data, and spending time with the data to find that story: “When you look at a piece, it’s successful when it translates data from something complicated to something simple.” -Josh Smith Jer Thorp talks about how the scale of data is expanding far beyond anything that people are capable of comprehending. His passion lies in finding nuggets of useful information that can be aggregated into comprehension: “There’s another purpose of data visualization. There’s revelation — which is — show us something that we’ve never seen before.” -Jer Thorp The video showcases some beautiful graphics, and is definitely worth your time.   Drew Skau is Visualization Architect at and a PhD Computer Science Visualization student at UNCC with an undergraduate degree in Architecture. You can follow him on twitter @SeeingStructure

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