I often find myself asking: “What do we do this Data Visualization thing for?”. Of course I do it mostly because it’s fun, and I bet it’s the same for you. Yet, is there a way we can find some deeper meaning in it? Are there some higher level purposes we can identify? Meaning often comes in relation […]


I am preparing a presentation for a talk I am giving next week and I have a slide I always use at the beginning that asks this question: How do we get information from the computer into our heads? This works as a motivation to introduce the idea that regardless the data crunching power we […]


[Be warned: this is me in a somewhat depressive state after the deep stress I have endured by submitting too many papers at VIS’14 yesterday. I hope you will forgive me. In reality I could not be more excited about what I am doing and what WE are doing as a community. Yet, I feel […]


I don’t know if this is true for you but I certainly used to take data for granted. Data are data, who cares where they come from. Who cares how they are generated. Who cares what they really mean. I’ll take these bits of digital information and transform them into something else (a visualization) using […]


The myth of the aimless data explorer

by Enrico on January 7, 2014

in Thoughts

There is a sentence I have heard or read multiple times in my journey into (academic) visualization: visualization is a tool people use when they don’t know what question to ask to their data. I have always taken this sentence as a given and accepted it as it is. Good, I thought, we have a […]


Data Visualization Semantics

by Enrico on July 15, 2013

in Thoughts

A few days ago I had this nice chat with Jon Schwabish while sipping some iced tea at Think Coffee in downtown Manhattan: what elements of a graphic design give meaning to a visualization? How does the graphical marks, their aesthetics, and their contextual components translate into meaningful concepts we can store in our head? Everything started […]


Yes teach, not learn. I have been writing about ways to learn visualizations multiple time (here, here, here, here, here, and, here) and others have done it multiple times too, but I am more interested in questions about how to best teach visualization now. I have been teaching a whole new Information Visualization course last […]


I see a lot of visualization around me now and I am extremely excited about it. Yet, are we making any real difference? I mean, are we having any real impact in people’s life other than telling them beautiful stories? Yes I know, impact could be defined in a million different ways and it may […]


What Is Progress In Visualization?

by Enrico on June 15, 2012

in Thoughts

Being a visualization researcher means a very large body of my work revolves around pushing the boundaries of visualization further. I do that by mostly developing innovative techniques but also trying to better understand how humans interact with this amazing tool we call visualization. You might think I have at least a rough idea of what progress […]


Telling a story doesn’t tell the whole story

by Enrico on February 28, 2012

in Thoughts

I was reading the description of a new data visualization contest coming out today, the Nielsen Data Visualization Contest, and an apparently insignificant sentence caught my attention: “The challenge is to make data tell a story, conveying what’s most important effectively and efficiently.” There is a lot of attention lately around using visualization to “tell […]