It can be incredibly beautiful. Just look at this visualization of the relationship between research publications through their use of citations.
When you work with data visualizations all day every day, it is very easy to end up in a relationship with them (some relationships are smoother than others). And because today is Valentine’s Day, I asked the data visualization lovers around me at the UNC Charlotte Vis Center and Visual.ly what makes data visualizations so attractive to them. In no particular order, here are some of the things we love about our field of work.
- Data visualization can make connections easier to understand. Like this interactive visualization of the relationships between high-rank executives and board members in corporate America.
It lets you explore data that would otherwise be just a collection of tables, numbers and words. Would you rather read a lengthy article ranking countries on a variety of health, education and economic factors, or look at this interactive visualization on the topic?
It applies to almost every discipline, from sports and science to politics and social media.
It clarifies things that are unclear.
The Mandelbrot set
It makes hidden structures visible. Just look at this interactive visualization of the Article for Deletion discussions in the English Wikipedia.
It is mostly a universal language. Whether you speak English, Spanish or Urdu, you will understand this visualization of a galloping horse just the same.
Graphics offer instant gratification. Like this interactive visualization of the mood of people in photographs from the Guardian’s 24 Hours in Pictures, or any other website you choose to break down… emotionally, that is.
Data visualization a right-brained thing… used in fields once dominated by left-brained people.
It lets you detect the expected.
It lets you discover the unexpected.
Last but not least, data visualizations (and infographics) go beyond words, yet are as intuitive as speaking in one’s mother tongue… or proposing to the love of your life, on Valentine’s Day.
Why do you love data visualization?
Drew Skau is a PhD Computer Science Visualization student at UNCC, with an undergraduate degree in Architecture.