What is Information Visualization?

Information visualization is the graphical representation of technical, often complex data that is designed to be understood quickly and easily by the layperson. Popularly called “infographics, ” this type of media is highly valuable in the age of ubiquitous knowledge, and the people who create it are equally desired by organizations seeking to share messages that make an impact. A well-designed infographic can illuminate facts buried in the pages of a dense report or text, or explicate a detailed concept, such as an underground transit system, with clarity and simplicity. The modern age is embracing the power of design to engage and inform audiences through infographics, and social media is the vehicle to take them viral, making information more relevant and accessible on a global level. For teaching and learning, the study of infographics covers a number of valuable skills relating to data analysis, design thinking, and contextual, inquiry-based research, not to mention the technical capacities required to carry out ideas using creative software. Information visualization will continue to capture the imaginations and attentions of scientists, designers, and audiences, while carving its niche as a 21st century discipline.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Sam Sam Nov 1, 2011

(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • University libraries are increasingly taking responsibility for gathering and publishing research data sets. A good visualisation can provide an effective "thumbnail" to allow researchers other than the author to assess whether a published data set might be of use in their research. Providing technical advice to researchers on visualisation techniques suited to their data is a service academic libraries can offer in the knowledge of what "best practice" emerges in this area.- g.payne g.payne Apr 14, 2015
  • We certainly see demand for support/instruction from non-specialists who would like to try to present data in different ways. We are conceiving of a model where we create a data sciences facility with expertise - perhaps delivered by grad students - and pointers to externally acquired data sets - cmkeithw cmkeithw Apr 16, 2015
  • In the design of user interface the window metaphor is still predominant. But 2D generated images are for the treatment of extensive complex search results less and less adequate. Another field of application is the gesture-controlled three-dimensional presentation of unique manuscripts and rare prints. - Achim.Bonte Achim.Bonte Apr 18, 2015
  • As keepers of and pathways to information, librarians have been helping patrons connect to data sources perhaps for as long as there have been librarians. To that end, librarians should be informing the next generation of data mining and data delivery tools. We should be modeling best practices and teaching others how to do so. Information visualization is just another aspect of "information literacy," how to understand, process, and make connections between sources of information, though in a more visual manner.- anthony.helm anthony.helm Apr 18, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The current buzz around information visualization seems to be more connected to issues involving big data--how to makes sense of and find patterns of meaning within large data sets. However, what is missing is the role that libraries have had in helping students visualize information in other media for years. While "papers" still dominate academic assignments, multimedia and multi-modal assignments, such as videos, poster projects, or multimedia presentations, have challenged students to learn to "share messages that make an impact" visually for some time, and trained library staff have been contributing to that learning.- anthony.helm anthony.helm Apr 18, 2015
  • add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • As mentioned above, this is an extension of the work library staff have been doing for many years. However, just as PowerPoint and non-linear video editing software needed to be learned, we will need to learn how to best use new tools for "data" visualization. On the plus side, we are already seeing impacts as a growing number of library staff throw themselves into learning computer programming, statistical software, and GIS software in order to respond to this interest.- anthony.helm anthony.helm Apr 18, 2015
  • add your response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • 3D-Explorer that has been developed jointly by the Munich Digitisation Centre of the Bavarian State Library and the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute
    - Achim.Bonte Achim.Bonte Apr 18, 2015
  • add your response here

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.