Swimming in Data? Three Benefits of Visualization
December 4th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

Good piece on dataviz from Harvard Business Publishing.

John Sviokla The Near Futurist RSS Feed

Swimming in Data? Three Benefits of Visualization

4:11 PM Friday December 4, 2009

Tags:Information & technology, Knowledge management

“A good sketch is better than a long speech…” — a quote often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte

The ability to visualize the implications of data is as old as humanity itself. Yet due to the vast quantities, sources, and sinks of data being pumped around our global economy at an ever increasing rate, the need for superior visualization is great and growing. To give dimension to the size of the challenge, the EMC reports that the “digital universe” added 487 exabytes — or 487 billion gigabytes — in 2008. They project that in 2012, we will add five times as much digital information as we did last year.

I believe that we will naturally migrate toward superior visualizations to cope with this information ocean. Since the days of the cave paintings, graphic depiction has always been an integral part of how people think, communicate, and make sense of the world. In the modern world, new information systems are at the heart of all management processes and organizational activities.

About ten years ago, I vividly remember visiting the Cabinet War Rooms in the basement of Whitehall, where Churchill had his war room during WW II. The desks were full of phones, and the walls covered with maps and information about troop levels and movements. These used color coded pieces of string to help Churchill's team easily understand what was happening:


On the one hand, I was struck by how primitive their information environment was only sixty years ago. But on the other, I found it reassuring to see how similar their approach was to war fighting today. The mode, quality and speed of data capture has changed greatly from the 1940s, but the paradigm for visualization of the terrain, forces, and strategy are almost identical to those of WWII. So, the good news is that even in a world of information surplus, we can draw upon deep human habits on how to visualize information to make sense of a dynamic reality. [more]


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa