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Information, Technology, and Innovation: Resources for Growth in a Connected World by John M. Jordan

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CHAPTER 30

Information Visualization

Because it is now easier to create visually pleasing graphics, because there is so much data to manage and understand, and because tools such as spreadsheets have finite limits in their ability to convey meaning, information visualization is a rich area, particularly linked as it usually is with ideas of information analytics. The ultimate challenge is less technical than cognitive: What is the creator trying to say, and what can he or she assume the reader will bring to the task of understanding both the data and its representation?

Over the past 30 years or so, the field of information visualization has evolved rapidly. Several factors help explain this development: supply, demand, and the audience. Today, each of these elements is changing rapidly, with broad consequences.

Supply

Both the quantity of information that needs to be processed (at both human and organizational levels) and the quality of the tools for managing and displaying it are increasing. To process this information, humanity makes increasing use of larger and higher-resolution displays as well as faster computing in devices not technically called computers: Sony PlayStations are wonders of graphics processing, for example.

Demand

More and more processes are being driven by digital information. Text and numbers gave way to pictures and sounds, then to video, and now to three dimensions. Where sailors once relied on stars and sun to navigate, differential GPS deliver resolution ...

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