Noah Iliinsky is the co-author of Designing Data Visualizations and technical editor of, and a contributor to, Beautiful Visualization, published By O’Reilly Media. He will lead a Designing Data Visualizations Workshop at O’Reilly’s Strata conference on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Data visualization is hot.
All of a sudden there are dozens of companies and products that want to help you visually analyze your data, build your own visualizations, and visually display interesting data sets of all kinds. So, why is visualization interesting? Why is it desirable? And most importantly, why is it useful?
To answer these questions, we need to go all the way back to biology. The answer is, fundamentally, our visual system is extremely well built for visual analysis. There’s a huge amount of data coming into your brain through your eyes; the optic nerve is a very big pipe, and it sends data to... keep reading