Data Visualization has been around since we were drawing stories of successful hunts in the cave to current day dashboards, conceptual models, and augmented reality displays.
Before we look at the future of data vis a quick history from “Milestones in the History of Data Visualization: A Case Study in Statistical Historiography” by Michael Friendly, professor of psychology, and chair of the graduate program of Quantitative Methods at York University.
- Pre 17th Century, maps were typically the only form
- 1644 Michaael Florent Van Langren a flemish astronomer provided the first visual representation of data
- 18th century saw the beginning of thematic mapping
- 18th century also gave us William Playfair who is widely considered to have invented popular graphs like the line bar and pie chart
- 19th century, Golden Age of statistical graphics driven by the industrial revolution
- 20th century, modern dark ages for statistical data images were considered overly inaccurate
- Later half of 20th century rebirth of data vis brought on my computer processing and larger volume of data
- 60’s and 70’s gave us John W Tukey in the Us and Jacques Bertin in France who developed the science of information visualization in stats and cartography
- Early 80’s saw emergence of Edward Tufte who’s work The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is still used today
- Last two decades has seen an explosion in volume and focus areas
As a result of the massive explosion of technology, data, our increasing understanding of the effectiveness of data visualization, and cheap/reliable storage we are now and more increasingly going to see data visualization as an expertise more prevalent in our day to day lives. The level of flexibility we now have to create visualizations that help communicate complex ideas in some contexts is a revenue and business driver for organizations and ideas.