Is Data Visualization A Gateway Drug To Statistics?

Is Data Visualization A Gateway Drug To Statistics?

As interest in data increases, more people will not only be exposed to various statistics but will be more willing to participate in the generation and pursuit of that data.

Dylan Schenker
  • 10 february 2011

Many Eyes by Martin Wattenberg & Fernanda Viegas

As data visualization continues to grow as a dominant form of statistical representation, so does the general population’s exposure to that data. In a recent interview with CultureLab,  Google designers Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas spoke about their various projects and goals. Wattenberg called data visualization a gateway drug to statistics proclaiming that, “People who look at visualisations will start asking statistically important questions”. Visualizations make mere numbers much more interesting through stylistic presentations making that hard data much more appealing to larger swathes of people.

As interest in that data increases, more people will not only be exposed to various statistics but will be more willing to participate in the generation and pursuit of that data. More people will be more informed due to a willingness to pursue data. Perspective can be shifted to see more things in life statistically as a way of ordering the overstimulating excess of information in our everyday lives.

Wattenberg’s and Viegas’s larger goal is to “democratize data”. They believe that although we are not there yet, that “visual literacy” is increasing and more people are being exposed to much more data through visualizations thus motivating more people to participate in the gathering and creation of it.

Martin Wattenberg

Fernanda Viegas

CultureLab: Data Artists: “Visualization as a Gateway Drug”


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