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The Many Names of Visualization

Nathan Yau recently wrote a posting about the different words used for visualization and infographics. His definitions are interesting because they reveal quite a bit about his background and main focus, and his blind spots give some insights into the community he's working in.


Here are Nathan's definitions with my comments. Since I have something to say about almost all of them, I decided to quote his entire list. I don't claim that my view is better or more correct, I simply want to provide a second opinion.

data visualization — Graph-like image or interactive, usually tied with data exploration and analysis.

First definition, first major difference: a lot of people in the visualization field would consider data visualization to denote scientific visualization (i.e., volume or flow visualization of data with spatial dimensions), for whatever reason. There may be simple historical reasons for this, or the assumption that scientific visualization deals with more data.

In any case, data visualization has a particular slant, and is not the same as visualization in general, and certainly does not refer to charts or ‘interactives.'

Posted by Robert Kosara on October 2, 2011.