2011 Visualized

January 3, 2012by

Data visualization has become a powerful tool for turning information into insight. It can bring patterns and anomalies in a data set to the surface, making them more easily detectible, and the findings can be presented in any number of ways. Most often displayed as charts or graphic video animations, data visualizations are fast becoming one of the leading forms of storytelling for the digital age.

The quality of visualizations varies, however, and neither the reliability of the data nor the way designers spin it should be taken uncritically. See, for instance, my evaluation of Top Jobs for Critical Thinking. Given their appeal, they have also become a popular tool for link baiting. See Thomas Baekdal’s welcome call to Focus on Relevant Insights in 2012.

But enough criticism. What about the good stuff?

For a quick snapshot of data visualization landscape, this video put together by the folks at visualizing.org does a nice job of highlighting the ways in which the major stories of 2011 have been told through visualization.

If you want to take look at some great examples, they also put together an easy to navigate gallery with 27 visualizations from 2011. Click on the image below to check them out. Or, if you’re interested in digging more deeply, here are a couple of places to start:

an introduction to visualizing data by joel laumans (.pdf)
Visualizations of Data Visualization (infosthetics.com)