Sunday, June 08, 2014

#SLA2014 : More Than Pretty Pictures: A Guide to Data Visualization for Info Pros

View from outside Conference Centre room 121Marcy Phelps, owner of Phelps Research, presented on this topic to a standing room only crowd.  She began doing visualization because of her work with marketing professionals, who liked visualization.  Phelps has placed her slides on her web site (  This was an introductory session on visualization.  She did not go deep into how to visualize and only touched on some of the tools.

Phelps blames the trend on visualization on TV, a visual medium.  Instagram and Pinterest are rapidly growing, which shows how much we want to communicate through pictures.  Our clients are downing in information.  Visualization helps to make that more understandable.  Visualizing adds value to the research that we can do.  Visualization creates interest in boring numbers.

Visual information becomes mor readable, logical/memorable, and usable.

Understanding data visualization - there is a huge range of how people are analyzing data and creating visualizations.  

Data art vs. Data visualization - infographics are data art.  Data art doesn't tell a story in the same way as a visualization.  

Data visualization = visualization design + visual analysis

Data visualization allows you to report or explore.  

Phelps recommends the book "Show Me the Numbers." See

There are four functions for data visualization: analyze, communicate, monitor, and/or plan.  Can allow you to get fast answers, uncover hidden insights, investigate cause and effect, and real-time tracking.

BTW Gapminder is a online resource for a fact-based world view.  

The health industry has been doing visualizations for quite a while.  Check out Health InfoScape, for an example.

Selecting the correct graphic is key.  There is another book called "Say It With Charts", which she recommends.  Having the skill to select the correct visual for the data is important.

A question was asked about creating visualizations that would be understandable to people with color blindness or other sight disabilities.  The audience agreed that there is no one solution, but that there are sites and tools that could help someone create a more broadly usable visualization.  Possible resources on this include:
In terms of visualize ifnomarion,in order to determine the possible graphics, ask:
  • What kind of information?
  • What is the message?
  • What's the relationship?
See graphic on that can help you decide on the correct graphic.

Another resource is "The Visual Display of Quantitative Infomation" by Edward Tufte.  He believes that you need to keep the clutter out of your visualization.

Visual analysis process:
  • Data/view specification
  • View manipulation
  • Process and provenance
Article - "Interactive Dynamics for Visual Analysis: A taxonomy of tools..."

No comments: