If a picture is worth a thousand words, the same can be said of data visualization. Humans can easily distinguish differences in size, shape, color, and orientation, meaning that representing data in a visual format allows us to process information more quickly than simply reading text or numbers.
Maps present enormous amounts of information in a visual format as do charts, graphs and other visual representations. These products offer many advantages including making sense of geography and spatial distributions, they can also simplify complex information to reveal hidden patterns, they facilitate the comparison of different datasets and allow the viewer to explore relationships among different parameters. They also allow us to visually track changes over time.
Looking at data in different ways can enhance our understanding and lead to the generation of new knowledge. Data visualization simultaneously communicates information in compelling and accessible forms and facilitates new discoveries through the act of visualization itself.
Data visualization allows us to communicate patterns, trends, and relationships within data in a highly-consumable and impactful way. Many researchers use data visualization to tell a story they have identified in their data to a broad audience. This page includes several examples of interesting data visualizations. Click the link below each image to view the original source and additional information.
Visualizing change over time is a common problem that has been approached in many different ways. Danny Dorling uses a phase portrait diagram to illustrate the changing rate of increase and decline in the COVID-19 mortality rate for several countries.
The example below from the New York Times illustrates how gender distribution within middle class jobs have changed between 1980 and 2012.