What You Need to Know about Information Visualization: A Career Path to Consider and a Tool for all Information Professionals

iStudent Blog

I just watched the recording of Dr. Michelle Chen’s recent webinar entitled “When Information Visualization Meets LIS,” a talk sponsored last week by our School’s award-winning ASIS&T student chapter. Chen, a faculty member with our School, discussed the emerging field of information visualization and the use of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional graphic representations of data by information professionals.

As a new student in one of our School’s fully online programs, you’ll soon learn the importance of communicating visually with your peers and professors, be it through slide presentations, reports, and student-led lectures, so I highly recommend viewing the webinar for immediate inspiration. Also, down the line, you may want to consider taking Dr. Chen’s LIBR 246 Information Visualization course

In the meantime, here’s a recap of the session with link for your own personal viewing.

What is Information Visualization?

Dr. Chen describes “Info Vis” as an emerging technology that helps people understand big data sets. She offers two definitions: 1) Information Visualization is the creation of a 2D or 3D representation of data that enables viewers to gain new insight or knowledge; 2) Information Visualization is a computer-supported interactive visual representation of data that amplifies the understanding or cognition of information. Unlike scientific visualization, which represents physical objects such as a drawing of the human body, information visualization communicates abstract ideas, amplifies cognition of massive amounts of data, and extends the ability to extract new insight.

Information Visualization relies upon the human eye’s incredible ability to absorb massive amounts of data through images very quickly and in a pre-attentive manner, which means that the visual process operates before the cognitive process sets in. Visual designs can reveal patterns and trends far quicker than can columns of data that require decoding, sorting, or deciphering. Graphics are also easier to remember and understand because people think visually.

What’s inspiring the trend toward Information Visualization?

Chen lists several compelling reasons for the increased trend toward utilizing Information Visualization technologies. For starters, there’s more and more information accessible to the public. Government agencies are now required to publish documents and records for easy public access. Books, videos, and images abound. All of this data leads to an increased need for Information Visualization as well as Information Visualization professionals.

Why is Information Visualization important for information professionals?

Visualization can be used to tell a story – for instance, which books have been banned in libraries and why? This emerging technology is also great for discerning trends, patterns, and exceptions that might otherwise be hidden within a data set. These discoveries can ultimately lead to better services in an information center.

Graphics are a great form of communication with information clients, resulting in better exhibits and increased persuasiveness. Information Visualization can be used to promote events and enhance user experience, ultimately helping to fulfill the social responsibility role of information professionals and improve community well-being.

To view Dr. Michelle Chen’s webinar, click to the recorded Collaborate session, and then come back and let me know what you think in the Comments section!

To learn more about our award-winning ASIS&T student chapter, check out their website.