Do you love reading reports? As in reports with a lot of words on them? Like 100 pages of just words? I don’t–that’s just boring. And data tables are just as bad. It’s quite dizzying, looking at numbers. Charts are okay, but some can still be quite confusing and droll. But thanks to recent developments in data science and collaboration, everyone’s seeing the benefit of data visualization to make for more interesting reports.
The Census Bureau is jumping on the band wagon, having released a new feature on their website, Visualization of the week, that tackles various statistical topics to help people better understand things going on around them. The great thing about this feature is that they will be adding new things every week, with some of the visualizations being interactive so readers/viewers will be even more engaged.
The very first visualization is about the historical population of the US from 1790-1890, entitled Increasing Urbanization. When you play the visualization, you’ll see the outline of US, then dots begin to fill in the map. The yellow dots represent a city with a population of 5,000-99,000, while the red dots represent a city with a population of more than 100,000. There are two other visualizations available, Gaining and Losing Shares, and the Top 20 Cities from 1790-2010.
Visualization really makes data interesting, and interesting data more fun. If you recall, Visual.ly launched do-it-yourself infographics at the SXSW 2012 last March. The purpose of these DIY infographics is to help people create interesting reports or just tell a cool story. Taking things to the next level, Visual.ly layered in some social features last week to encourage more collaboration around data visualization.
There’s plenty of infographics flying around these days, some more entertaining than others. Did you see the one detailing how much it would cost to become Batman, or the one that’s tallied up how many boobs you’ll see in an episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and even one pondering the rights of the apostrophe? But don’t think infographics are just there for fun or to help people spread useless data, some are actually worth reading and educational.