Lesson 7: Data Visualization and Infographics

The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures. - Ben Shneiderman

Visualizations act as a campfire around which we gather to tell stories. - Al Shalloway

We live in an information-rich society. According to IBM (2012), 2.5 exabytes of data is data is created every day. This is 2.500.000.000 GB every day. IBM (2012) states that 90% of the data that exists in our world today has only been created in the past two years. However, this data or information is not always directly meaningful to us or easy to understand. Data and information visualization can help to make this data more meaningful and accessible to people. It can help people interpret and understand this information better. Please watch the following TED video to see some examples and uses of data visualizations.

As you may have noticed in David McCandless’s video, there are many types of data visualizations. Some are static while others are dynamic. Some do not take much time to create, while others, such as the one visualizing evidence for nutritional supplements, can take a long time to create. While there are many different kinds of data visualizations, in this particular lesson you will visualize data through infographics. Infographics usually include data visualizations, but are not necessarily the same as a data visualization. Infographics lend themselves more to telling a specific story through visuals and data, whereas data visualizations let viewers explore a story by themselves. Compared to data visualizations, infographics concentrate more on conclusions about data rather than displaying large quantities of data. While aesthetics are important in both data visualizations and infographics, infographics often tend to look more appealing and artistic. In this lesson, you will not only learn about infographic design, you will also create one yourself.