Lozano-Hemmer, R. (2013). Zero Noon Clock [image]. retrieved 17/07/15 from http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/zero_noon.php
Data visualisation is an effective way of communication. It enables our minds to view, interpret and understand certain information in a different light, in contrast to how we have done in the past. Data visualisation means as the term suggests, that is, data displayed in a visual way, but there are many techniques and methods behind the process of designing an appropriate form for a set of data. For example, data visualisation can be presented in a time-series visual, where data collected over a period of time is compressed into one single image, so that change is able to be witnessed and more easily understood. In contrast, network visuals display a web of connections, such train stations within a train network. (Reas & McWilliams, 2010) This visual technique can be used to identify relationships that are sometimes invisible and the important connections that some may take for granted or overlook. These two techniques show just how powerful data visualisation can be when it is presented properly.
Understanding the data is the first step in creating the form of that data, as appropriateness is important. The visual technique to be used, strongly depends on the data that it is going to represent. For example it would not be appropriate to display the connections in a train network using the technique of a time-series visual, because time is not being measured. Nor would it make sense to display the rise in sea water levels over a period of time using the technique of a network visual, as the data could not be interpreted properly.
The visual image is a very useful and effective way to present information, but I don’t believe it is “a better way.” I think that, instead, images are “needed,” but to say that they could in fact replace words is unfeasible. Words are just as powerful as images. For example, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Zero Noon” (2013) digital, interactive clock. The clock (Lozano-Hemmer, 2013) shows time according to eccentric metrics, where statistics choose what time it is and how fast the clock ticks, which I find to be a very powerful concept. Noon Zero (Lozano-Hemmer, 2013) shows how many babies are being born, how much plastic is being produced and how many tobacco related deaths there have been since noon. I find this clock a reality-check for humanity, it gives us a chance to witness just how fast, or slow, things such as death, birth, heartbeats are occurring without us knowing. This clock is not just an image, it is a series of numbers, which represent statistics, and words, which explain what the statistic represents. The clock is the image that represents time in a way that most of us have never considered, but the numbers and words give it meaning, otherwise it is just a regular clock. Words are needed, just as much as images, no matter how long, short, small or large, they are just like a piece to a puzzle, images can’t work alone. Sometimes, people need more than an image, they want to understand further, and words, as well as figures and speech, can help with this. I believe images and words must work in unison together to be most effective.
Reas, C. & McWilliams, C. (2010). Form + Code in Design, Art, and Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/lib/swin/reader.action?ppg=118&docID=10453751&tm=1429151430391
Lozano-Hemmer, R. (2013). Zero Noon Clock [Online image]. retrieved 17/07/15 from http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/zero_noon.php