Data Visualization - Art or Science?

Data Visualization - Art or Science? - Article written for IB5k, LLC's blog. Around 40,000 years ago, the first man-made two-dimensional symbols appeared on cave walls. These are among the earliest known visual expressions of human ideas. Today, we continue the tradition of visual communication through an incredible range of media - paints on a canvas, film, pottery, computer pixels, photography, and countless others.

With a recent rise in availability of massive datasets, so too has risen an acute public interest in understanding what stories these large datasets are telling, and in visualizing these insights in useful and compelling ways. The data visualization industry is booming.

At, we love diving into datasets, understanding the stories they tell, and finding practical, yet beautiful and engaging ways to share those stories through our data visualization platform. Transforming raw datasets into visual narrative helps us understand relationships, correlations, and stories in our data in a way that we may not immediately be able to see in looking at raw datasets.

The data visualization process is a curious beast that begins with seemingly incomprehensible volumes of information, moves through an intensive data cleaning, classification, statistical and mathematical modeling, analysis, design process, and ends with a visualization. The entire process of building a visualization is a complex interdisciplinary melange of domains. One day, we took a step back and watched as our team of diverse professionals worked on developing a visualization. We were amazed at just how many different perspectives were necessary to create the dynamic end goal.

In hopes of satisfying our attempts to pinpoint what exactly data visualization is, we put our staff to the test. We asked them what they thought - is data visualization an art? Or is it a science? Read more...

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