Data visualization has an amazing ability to make the complex simple, and the latest tools can do much more than give everyone the same view of data. It’s only through visualization that we can take something as abstract as symbols and turn it into a physical image that has dimensions that our eyes can quickly see and our brains understand. We can grasp data’s meaning more quickly. Visualization tells us when trends are heading in the wrong direction and we need to intervene.
But even more, when we visualize the scope and scale of today’s enormous data sets, we pick up things with the naked eye that would otherwise be hidden. We can see data’s previously untold story. We can see where Pennsylvania’s Vote ID Law is disproportionately affecting minorities and students. Visualization of Twitter data can show us a revolution as it unfolds in Cairo. What was being reported in the media as mass crowds forming in Tahrir Square comes to life when the network data becomes visualized as it grows.