We’re seeing a movement where the value of visualizing information is becoming integrated into our own interactive user experience. Pinterest has become one of the most popular social networks because of its ability to organize images according to the users’ personal interests and marketing strategy all thanks to the Masonry layout design. Infographics are also becoming highly utilized to illustrate particular statistics in various fields such as finance, social media and politics.
This isn’t really a new discovery but it seems like we’re heading into a loop. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors used images to tell stories of their lives. Whether it is about hunting or ritualistic ceremonies, ancient cave paintings were used to tell stories and record it. The same is true to Egypt’s own hieroglyphics. Images portrayed Egyptian society from worshipping gods to an individual’s role in society. What was developed back then is now a functional way to present data and understand its meaning.
Why the popularity? You have to look at it from a cognitive perspective. We humans have a wonderful ability to process visual information alot faster than textual or verbal information plus we’re able to retain the memory more efficiently (for a more extensive explanation go to Interaction-Design.org). Whatever graphical display we see, we can decode and understand the data but in order to produce successful visual data, it has to be organized in a way that it can tell the story not just become eye candy of color and shapes. As media technology is becoming more accessible online, users would like the ability to dabble with the visual content through interactive means; this is evident in both new media art and websites but now journalism wants to adapt to data visualization as well and considering the state that it’s in, it’s a must.
In order to better understand this topic that I blogged, you need to watch the video that I added to the post. Journalism in the Age of Data was created by Stanford University’s online journalist, Geoff McGhee, and it illustrates how the journalism industry are using today’s interactive tools to both analyze and visualize data to tell stories. The programs that you will see can also be used beyond journalism; social media analysis and SEO keyword research can take advantage of the visual programs to better understand the connections that are being made, TouchGraph and Social Collider are two examples of social media visualization tools that are able to analyze online human connections.
Have you made any data visualizations or infographics yourselves? If so, did you feel that it was successful as a medium?
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