What is Visual Data Analysis?


Visual data analysis blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in even the most complex visual presentations. Currently applied to massive, heterogeneous, and dynamic datasets, such as those generated in studies of astrophysical, fluidic, biological, and other complex processes, the techniques have become sophisticated enough to allow the interactive manipulation of variables in real time. Ultra high-resolution displays allow teams of researchers to zoom into interesting aspects of the renderings, or to navigate along interesting visual pathways, following their intuitions and even hunches to see where they may lead. New research is now beginning to apply these sorts of tools to the social sciences as well, and the techniques offer considerable promise in helping us understand complex social processes like learning, political and organizational change, and the diffusion of knowledge.

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

  • As libraries offer more data services, they should consider supporting visual data analysis as well. If libraries hae dedicated media labs and large displays, students and faculty would have a place to learn the necessary tools for visual data analysis. - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015
  • New generation users tend to read graphics instead of text, therefore it is increasingly important for libraries to provide visual data analysis services, academic and research libraries have to pay much attention to this area(- liusq liusq Apr 19, 2015)

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



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

  • Multitaction displays (which turns walls into giant touch screens) could have a place in libraries, but require programming expertise in addition to the initial installation costs. Also, support for data analysis and data visualization could be emerging specialties for librarians. - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015
  • This will challenge librarians, librarians have to update their knowledge. Also, academic libraries have to offer this kind of services.
  • As libraries have actively moved to become part of the cycle for data management and hosting, both of the above may very well become critical parts of the services we provide. Both visualization and visual data analysis offer huge potentials for new ways of looking at research in Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM fields, and it will be likely that academic libraries have to learn how to support researchers in incorporating these elements into their work and also how to preserve and maintain the outputs. - janice.welburn janice.welburn Apr 20, 2015

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

  • UNLV Libraries has installed one large multitaction wall that is currently used for display and use of digitized special collections. - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015
  • add your response here

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