Any good salesperson or teacher uses visual inspiration to make the sell or instill the knowledge. Data visualization can help us understand many things better, including very large-scale things like the size of the universe. This is a perfect example, and the BBC does a great job visualizing it here.

By presenting data in a pictorial or graphical format, people understand information more easily and quickly. This has been done for centuries and centuries in maps and charts. As more and more data is collected and analyzed, decision makers at all levels welcome data visualization software that enables them to see analytical results presented visually, find relevance among the millions of variables, communicate concepts and hypotheses to others, and even predict the future or analyze the past.

The early cave paintings depicted actual celestial events. Language has been symbolic from the beginning. So now we can look at our data representations with a different perspective, reminded of their pictorial origins.

This approach feeds that part of our brain that wants more than numbers and words. It feeds the dimensional parts of our vision and other senses all the while, providing valuable and usable data.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.