Data Visualization: New Tools for Illustration, Insight, and Inspiration

(image taken from

The emerging field of “data visualization” brings together quantitative information with technology and graphic design to tell stories and convey ideas. As data about our environment, travel, work, online activities and other behavior increases exponentially, visualization tools can help discern the forest from the trees of rows and columns, in order to understand trends and make decisions. Moving beyond the standard pie charts and bar graphs, creative visual artists, demographers, journalists and others are developing exciting new ways to marry data with visual representation.

These pictographs draw on a variety of data sources, ranging from large, publicly available datasets to user- or community-generated reports to very individualized information meant for personal consumption. Public datasets on any number of topics are now online through the Open Government Platforms in the United States and elsewhere. Health department restaurant ratings, immigration statistics, birth-name registries and much more are being made available at the national, state and local level. Apps based on these datasets are being created weekly in hackathons around the world and by professional data scientists. Global development statistics, for one, received a breath of life with Gapminder, a tool created by Swedish statistician Hans Rösling in 2005. His dynamic, multidimensional tool revolutionized the presentation of UN data with its compelling, interactive demonstration of the relationship between per-capita income and life expectancy in 190 countries over the course of two centuries. …

Read the full post: