It's always interesting as a commercial lawyer to see how a blank look on a client's face can be transformed to instant understanding when the legal words are turned into pictures - arrows and boxes are a favourite of mine. Transforming data into understandable communication is becoming more and more important every day. But that's not a new phenomenon. This article gives a brief history of how we've moved from transforming small amounts of data in a 19th century context to virtual reality. But with virtual reality already old news, what's next?
We live in an age of data visualization. Go to any news website and you’ll see graphics charting support for the presidential candidates; open your iPhone and the Health app will generate personalized graphs showing how active you’ve been this week, month or year. Sites publish charts showing how the climate is changing, how schools are segregating, how much housework mothers do versus fathers. And newspapers are increasingly finding that readers love “dataviz”: In 2013, the New York Times’ most-read story for the entire year was a visualization of regional accents across the United States. It makes sense. We live in an age of Big Data. If we’re going to understand our complex world, one powerful way is to graph it.