Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks: A Signpost of the Data Visualization Transformation

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks- Orlando Rents
Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks- Jacksonville Income Map
New tools for data visualization seem to be appearing everyday.  A number of trends seem to be driving it. First, there is more data available. The Obama administration's Open Government Initiative has provided a central repository for public information.  This commitment at the federal level has been followed by many municipal and state governments. Several non-profits are working to support these efforts. The National Day of Civic Hacking allow open data advocates to promote innovative solutions to public problems using open data sets.

The second trend I see affecting things is the number of tools for data visualization that are available.  While I recognize that not all the program available are  useful to humanities scholars uninterested in quantitative analysis, some of them can be a powerful way to highlight points made in a traditional manner.  

Third, the number of digital devices connected to the internet means that data visualizations are becoming an important way to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Mobile devices are becoming the defacto space to interact with the world. With so much information for everyone to sort through, visually engaging presentations can make the difference between success and failure.  This is not a question of the quality of the information. The problem of information fluency grows ever more important because of these issues.  Instead, this is a simple question of user experience. If you can create an engaging visual as a gateway to your argument, then you provide yourself the opportunity to draw the audience to discover the substance of your analysis.  If I'm right, as educators concern with preparing students for contemporary society, basic understanding of data presentation will be essential regardless of discipline. 

No comments:

Post a Comment