Information visualization has been a fundamental tool in scientific communication since the early work of William Playfair and Charles Joseph Minard at the turn of the nineteenth century, particularly serving as means to convey the result of statistical analysis and complex information, while the practice of map making dates back thousands of years, and cartography has always been a key means to represent and understand the environment that surrounds us. Geographic information analysis emerged from the work of John Snow in the second half of the nineteenth century, as formal approach in studying spatial patterns, and flourished in the last twenty years, with the introduction of computer-based geographic information systems and the development of geographic information science.
The last decades have witnessed unprecedented advances in the availability of visualization tools as well as the availability of data. The aim of this course is to provide students with the skills to take advantage of those tools and data, through an introduction to information visualization theory, as well as basic practical skills in creating effective visuals, including the visualization of geographic data.
The objective for the students is to learn the fundamental principles of perception, symbolisation, and cartography, as well as to develop a basic knowledge of the design practices and tools that can be used to create informative graphics, maps and diagrams using information visualization tools.
This will provide social science students with a set of skills that will enable them to produce effective visualizations of their data, and thus better represent, support, and communicate their findings. Students will also be introduced to visualization as a data exploration method useful in the early stages of research to get an overview of data.
Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to: understand and discuss fundamental concepts related to visual perception, visual representation, cartography; understand advantages and issues of main visualization methods; have basic knowledge of geographic information systems tools; and effectively visualise quantitative data.