Benefits of Visualization

So what are the benefits of visualization over other techniques? My favorite answer is this:

  • "Visualization not only helps you answer questions that you have, but it elicits questions that you did not even think of before. So for some things you can come up with algorithms to solve your problems, but for others, you don't even know your problem upfront!"

There are many more benefits to visualization. Here are just a few:

  • The bandwidth of data you can transfer in a picture is much bigger than having a human look at log files or textual data.

  • Relationships become very apparent. Sometimes they are completely hidden without visualization.

  • Interactive visualizations benefit from dynamic queries which are an incredible tool to explore data.

  • Visualization inspires. You look at a picture or a graph and suddenly you realize what is really going on.

  • It's a great tool to communicate information in a very compact and often easy to understand way.

  • It definitely reduces analysis and response times. Sifting through thousands of line of logs is definitely slower than looking at a few graphs of the same data.

I am curious what other's think. Let's add to the list!

thanks bro

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Without being able to go too much into detail, as I'm just a student of the field myself, there's plenty of evidence from the field of cognitive science that visualization is a natural way for humans to interpret data.

I used to explain why I like

I used to explain why I like visualization, these days though I'm more interested in the problems with it than its successes. I'm curious what others think about these-
- unintentionally biasing your viewer as a result of your choices in visual method
- visualization failing as a result of not understanding your viewers assumptions (cultural for instance, is RED a good or bad color?)
- creating visualizations that discover something with the human eye that can't be discovered by a program
- showing enough data to give a sense of context while providing enough detail to enable understanding (the SSH as viewed by Argus is an example of this problem - you can see all the graphs but you can't really drill in and see any of the details of the text)
- preventing large event volumes from overwhelming or changing how you interpret other smaller event clusters
- along the same lines, taking advantage of/avoiding the impact of what data is placed next to each other (RumINT used to be an interesting example of this when the windows were shown in a specific order and still in the parallel plot)

This doesn't mean I like visualization any less, I just find the problems are more interesting than the successes to date.

more (?)

- Visualization is much easier to bear in remembrance
(dual coding - combine information with images to remember them easily)
Paivio, A. (1986): Mental representations: a dual coding approach. New York: Oxford University Press

- Visualization is less abstract than textual information. Graphical objects (circles, cubes) are easier to understand than an expression written in a special language and font type.
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