Virtual Seminar

Information Visualization: Letting Data Tell the Story

February 2011

90 minutes

  • Understand why visualization is powerful and popular
  • Know where there’s a difference between data visualization and infographics, and when to use each
  • Realize how visualization for analysis and for presentation differ
  • Recognize what different visualization styles exist (line, bar, pie, map, etc.) and their strengths
  • Understand what the subtlety and beauty of well designed visualizations can achieve
Topics:

You're deluged with data on a daily basis. Sometimes it tells a story, sometimes the story needs to be found. And when there’s lots of data, making sense out of it becomes even trickier. Information visualization is the graphic presentation of that data. Done right, it’s like you’re looking through the eyes of an expert.

Need examples? A map of the New York City subway system. A diagram of the human brain. A stock chart. Even a baseball game box score.

In this seminar, Noah Iliinsky discusses the types of visualizations in common use, why and when they are useful, what types to use in different situations, how to think about different types, and who's doing good work. Of course, he'll also show some bad examples and talk about why they fail.

Through the examples Noah shows, you’ll learn how a visualization qualifies as beautiful: it must be aesthetically pleasing, but it must also be novel, informative, and efficient. And then he’ll talk a bit about how to do it, including these steps:

  • Understand your own goals. Are you analyzing or presenting information? Once or in an ongoing way? What does this visual need to achieve?
  • Understand the needs, biases, and existing knowledge of your audience; their perspectives are likely different from yours. Your success is measured by their success.
  • Only include the necessary information; if it's not helping get the message across, it's noise.
  • Follow those conventions when reasonable to do so. Depart from them when you can create a genuinely better format.
  • Iterate, test, iterate some more.
  • Don't try too hard to be sexy; function first, sexy second.

Noah will show you the state of information visualization today, and why it’s a tool that's appropriate for managers and administrators, as well as designers and developers.

Noah says:

Successful visualizations are beautiful not only for their aesthetic design, but also for the elegant layers of detail that generate insight and new understanding.”

  • Understand why visualization is powerful and popular

  • Know where there’s a difference between data visualization and infographics, and when to use each

  • Realize how visualization for analysis and for presentation differ

  • Recognize what different visualization styles exist (line, bar, pie, map, etc.) and their strengths

  • Understand what the subtlety and beauty of well designed visualizations can achieve

Visualization is a worthy goal to pursue and you’ll leave this seminar with some solid ideas on how to get there.