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Data visualization” refers to transforming figures and raw data into visual objects: points, bars,“ line plots, maps, etc. By combining user-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing features, these visualizations make research and data analysis much quicker, and are also a powerful communication tool.
“Data visualization is the art of depicting data in a fun and creative way, beyond the possibilities of Excel tables. In a way, it’s like setting figures to music.” explained Charles Miglietti, expert in data visualization and co-founder of Toucan Toco.
This practice allows you to present complex raw data in an interactive, visual way, providing readers with a new way of looking at this information.
Though data visualization is most frequently used in a professional context, such as reporting in various different fields, some visualizations offer a glimpse into data related to pop culture and everyday subjects.
Here are seven examples of data visualization :
1 – Cinema : Explaining a movie plot through data visualization
Inception is an American film, directed by Christopher Nolan and released in 2010, that focuses on the themes of dreams and reality. The movie’s hero, Cobb, is an “extractor”, an agent that can enter someone’s dreams and learn their secrets, who collaborates with others on industrial espionage missions.
This simple, colourful and interactive data visualization offers a detailed explanation of the film’s complex plot.
(Warning, spoilers !!)
This visualization offers a step-by-step explanation of the storyline, guiding readers through each “dream level” of the film. It helps us understand everything: the role of each character, where they are, and which events are happening simultaneously.
2 – Art : Analyzing the colour palettes of great artworks
Arthur Buxton has created a data visualization that shows an overview of the colour palettes used by ten painters, including Monet, Gauguin and Cézanne, over a period of ten years. These offer a new perspective on these artists, sorting them by the colours used rather than by art movement.
3 – Philosophy : A visual depiction of ideas
The data presented here is a direct reflection of concepts from everyday life. Ideas are presented and analyzed based on their significance, duration and the feelings that they evoke. Another interesting perspective on a common subject !
4 – National Geographic : Cartography
This visualization shows how various different geographers worked to map the world, from 1915 to the present day.
By showing how these old maps were created, these images guide readers through the history of cartography.
They help us understand the tremendous scope of these projects, and the challenging work of geographers at the beginning of last century.
5 – Gastronomy in pictures
Here is a fun example of another data visualization that is directly applicable to everyday life : food and wine pairings.
6 – Data visualization through video
Data visualization can take many different forms – though most are aesthetically pleasing, they are usually static images. However, videos can also be used to depict data. Take a look at the following visualization for everything you need to know about the planet Earth :
7 – Literature and astronomy :
This visualization was named one of the most beautiful data visualizations of 2017.
It combines literature and astronomy in an extremely original way : the first sentence of a literary work is always unique. Here, the artist uses the grammatical structure of opening sentences from well-known works such as The Phantom of the Opera, Robinson Crusoe and Robin Hood, as well as the length and rhythm of the words, to create a diagram in the form of a constellation for each sentence.
See the rest here !
Creating your data visualization :
Entertaining and user-friendly data visualizations can also be used in a professional context .Let’s take a look at an application developed by Toucan Toco : Toucan Cocotte. This application shows the number of women who work in various different fields.
The image features the same types of entertaining elements as in previous examples : colourful dashboards and indicators, as well as humorous depiction of impactful information.
The drop-down menu on the left allows users to explore various different subjects. Let’s take a look at women in tech !
The data is easy to understand, thanks to the colour palettes used, as well as the clarity and simplicity of the indicators used to display the information : in a given period, from 1970 to 2011, we can see the exact percentage of women in each tech-related field.
In summary : it allows us to learn a lot about a key topic, in a short amount of time !
Common features of these visualizations
All of these data visualizations include the following features :
- Indicators : These show the hierarchy and organization of a collection of data on a given subject. They highlight the most important information.
- Simplicity : The information is clear. “A picture is worth a thousand words”. The reader understands the information at hand immediately.
- Brevity : The message is short and clear, and no unnecessary information is visible.
- Originality : types of data, that seem unrelated at first glance, are collected
and displayed in a way that offers readers a new perspective on the subject. Visualization #7 is a good example of this.
- Colour : to draw the reader’s attention to the most important pieces of information, clear and easy-to-understand colour palettes are used.
- Aesthetics : The graphics are lively, well-designed and pleasant to look at.
All of these visualizations are also very informative. Readers can quickly learn about the information at hand. Some visualizations let readers go even further, interacting with the data that is presented to them.
Data visualization offers a fun new perspective on content that may initially seem uninteresting or incomprehensible. These seven examples show us that the only real limit is your imagination !
Charles Miglietti, co-founder @toucantoco
ABOUT TOUCAN TOCO
Toucan Toco was created in 2014 by Charles Miglietti, Kilian Bazin, Baptiste Jourdan and David Nowinsky. They felt that only expert analysts were able to easily access company performance data, and decided to use a new discipline, Data Storytelling, to make information more accessible and facilitate decision-making processes.