The Value of Data Visualization from Column Five on Vimeo.
Finding the needle in the haystack is now more pressing than before. The more data we produce and have access to, the more the need for something intelligent to get the information out of the data becomes important. Obviously the ever-increasing amount of data and the shift to global data stores like the cloud have increased the need for better visualizations techniques and innovative thinking.But the amount of noise has also increased and the need to choose through it. How to filter out of the billions of tweets the stuff that matters to you? The only way to do that is by choosing; what matters to you is related to the things that you choose for and which have a direct relevance in your life (personal or professional). Before the filtering comes the criteria and the criteria are dictated by the business or personal context combined with a more-or-less precise definition of what the solution or answer should be like. Usually a question has many answers or complementary answers, much like a mathematical problem has a one or more solutions depending on the target space within which the solution should be found.
Although I find it refreshing to see that data visualization and presentation techniques are now more important than ever before, it's not for myself the reason why this field is interesting or fertile. Data visualization is useful as a product for the end-user or consumer but is equally well interesting for the producer or creative inventor because it combines various fields. Like nothing else you need to be partly an artist, partly a scientist to come up with something beautiful yet meaningful and interesting. You need to understand sometimes deep technical details and exotic programming concepts while having a good understanding of the business context and what a customer needs. You need to fathom the (business) question and at the same time have a vision, which usually means a mixture of intuition and expertise. You need to understand the language of different people and sub-cultures, read through minor details, yet see through the details and go beyond to deliver a broad concept. Having a bird's-eye view while knowing the murky details on a low-level demands a mind which can stretch across all levels of thinking. Can you make the simple complex and the complex simple? Can you see color where others see mathematical formula's? Can you see sound where others see data and shapes? Can you see code where someone sees motion? Can you see patterns where others see noise? Can you see information where others see data?