Friday, December 16, 2011

Growing Need for Visualization Skills

Our access to information has increased so much that it is beyond the scale at which we can humanly cope with it. Visualization is one of the ways in which we deal with the inhuman scale of massive quantities of information. More than half of our brain is dedicated to processing visual input so words and numbers alone simply can't convey information in a way that is as digestible and memorable as visualization.

Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language (2011) (left) is a book about the growing need for people with strong visualization skills in reporting news, understanding science, explaining geography and coping with the modern world (right). We need more people like John Venn, inventor of the Venn diagram; Winsor McKay, pioneering animator; Otl Aicher, creator of the simplified figures used on signs at the Olympics; Harry Beck, designer of the London Underground map; Edward Tufte, author of several books on visualization; Nigel Holmes, infographic designer for Time magazine; Richard Saul Wurman, inventor of the phrase "Information Architect", and many others.

In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in the use of visualization to present ideas and facts. Graphic language is growing so extensively that it is becoming a universal language. Our brains find it easier to process information visually than through words and numbers alone. Looking at numerical data takes a great deal of mental effort but information presented visually can be grasped in a few seconds.

What was called "Visual Art" in the schools in the past, has grown beyond mainly creative self-expression (Art) to now include Visual Communication, Design, and Visual Culture. Visualization is as critical to human growth and development as reading, writing, and math.

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