Data visualization is the study of the visual representation of, meaning “information that has been abstracted in some schematic form, including attributes or variables for the units of information”

There is a good video on TED showing more details and examples on Data visualization:

we can watch the video shown below by clicking this link “http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html”

In this TED speech, Mr. David McCandless gives a short introduction on what is data visualisation. He turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.

As I quote from the video for the reason why data visualization is important : “There’s a very interesting and odd pattern hidden in this data, that you can only see when you visualize it….By visualizing this information, we turned it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a kind of map, a sort of information map.”

Actually, data visualization is not a totally new conception, it is already all around our life. In statistics, in order to present the result of research, statisticians use a lot of plots to help themselves to show the result. For example, a histogram is a graphical representation showing a visual impression of the distribution of data. A histogram is a more straightforward way to understand the distribution of data numbers rather than looking straight at data numbers.

One thing data visualization can provide rather than a traditional way is to assembly and to combine different kind of information together. Here is an recent example on the US presidential election 2012.

In this case, several information sets are all joined into a same plot: presidential electoral votes results, Senate election, House election, etc. With the help of the US map, we can find that Mitt Romney succeeds to convince people living in the middle of the US to vote for him while Mr. Barack Obama is more supported in the east part of the country and states in the north-west.
By simply using two bars with different colours, we can easily see from the map that Mr. Obama wins the election and how much he wins, which is so easy to follow compared to being given two numbers like 46,649,289 and 46,960,249.

Another reason for which data visualization is important is that it helps to find out the relation between data, it helps to analyse and dig into data for more information, for the reason for why the data is distributed in a such way.

Some more about data visualization
Besides traditional ways of data visualization methods, there are now some more modern approaches, which are much better, profound, creative and absolutely fascinating ways to visualize data rather than just tables, histograms, pie charts and bar graphs.

Data Visualization: Modern Approaches
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/08/02/data-visualization-modern-approaches/

There are also many tools/softwares who will help to give more sophisticated visualization solutions
The top 20 data visualisation tools
http://www.netmagazine.com/features/top-20-data-visualisation-tools

http://selection.datavisualization.ch/

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