Data visualization is data that has been transformed into an image that gives the data new meaning. It is designed with the purpose of giving the viewer a new perspective on the data or helping them see a bigger picture. An example of data visualization could be as simple as a graph or be as complex as a balloon heat map. Here are 3 simple examples that you may not even realize are examples of data visualization:
- Video – Videos are also a great form of visualization, since there is much you can do with “moving pictures” that cannot be expressed in exactly the same way in a static image. Most of the time I look to videos as fast and effective way to learn something. I am a visual learner so I use YouTube very heavily when I need to learn something fast. I am able to understand and digest difficult subject matters in much less time watching a video then reading documents.
- Infographs – Though primarily in the US, Inforgraphs have been growing in popularity. They are a great way to tell a story with data or to show how different data points relate to each other. Some are able to compress many different data sources into one cohesive image. My favorite part about Infographs is that you can look at most of them for a few moments and gain a deeper understanding about a subject immediately.
- Graphs – Part of my job at EMC is to provide a workload assessment of the performance profiles of our customer’s data centers. About 90% of my presentation is formatted into graphs. It gives a great high level perspective of a customer’s workload over a period of time. One of my favorite types of graphs is a heat map. This shows how much each component in a system is being utilized (i.e. red = 100%, yellow 80%, etc.). With a quick glance, even our non-technical customers are able to see what components are being maxed out and where potential bottlenecks in their environment lie.
These are just some of many examples of data visualization. The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is key to understanding the purpose of data visualization: it is often much easier for the human brain to observe, take in and understand the illustration of a concept or idea than it is to understand the words that are chosen to describe it.