I have been toying with this question for the last three years, from the time I had first asked it during one of my internal session on Typography in Sapient. And as the years have rolled by, I am witnessing significant rise is the use of visual language to communicate complex concepts, information and data.
The social media has opened up the world like never before and for the first time we are witnessing communication across geographical, language and cultural barrier at a mass level. People from every walk of like are reaching out and not only connecting with people across the globe but have opened up in the real sense sharing emotional, cultural and professional experiences. And perhaps it is this openness which is having a catalytic effect on the growth of the visual language; fueled by the need to communicate in a language that is as less and less dependent on the semantics language.
Whether it is a Facebook map of human relationship, the global warming’s impacts or as mundane information as how and where New York foodies spend their money, everywhere we see a preference to use visual models to communicate the information. It appears the World is on a fast track to develop the vocabulary and syntax of the visual language and simultaneously also making an effort to popularize it. Companies like Jees3 and idiagram seems to be at fore front of this change.
Over the last few months I have come across various resources which are either engines of this visual movement or example of the exemplary initiatives across the globe which this unorganized movement is inspiring.
Word Lens is the new and innovated iPhone app that user the iPhone camera to scan writings and translate the text to your chosen language instantly and display it on the screen
Google has recently released a beta version of a WebGL application called Body Browser. As the name suggests, it allows you to you to view the human body in intricate detail right down to the muscular tissue, skeletal structure, nervous system, and even major organs.
With Visuwords you can look up words and get a visual map of their meanings and associations with other words and concepts
This is interactive tool that allows you to discover the connections between words and display the relationship cognitively. With more than 145,000 words and 115,000 meanings it has a large dataset and have been around for than 5 years.
Page Rank Graph
The engine gives a visual map of your page rank; it produces a network graph showing the web of links that are contributing to that the site’s prominence in search results. Full code for PageRankGraph is available here
This is an interesting and ongoing experiment by IBM Research and the IBM Cognos software group since 2007, whose stated goal is to enable data analysis by making it easy for lay people to create, edit, share and discuss information visualizations.
A World of Tweets
This is a real-time visualization of geolocated tweets around the world. The real time heat map shows the geographical intensity of tweets across the world as they are generated across the world
Facebook Sentiment’s Engine
In late 2009, Facebook project loosely referred as ‘Happiness Project’ that tracks the happiness of Facebook users based on the words used in their updates – words like “happy” or “awesome” or “sad” or “tragic.”
A visual programming language aimed to gather, process and visualize information. Impure makes it is possible to obtain information from very different sources; from user owned data to diverse feeds in internet, social media and images.
A non-profit tech company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. The software in diverse project have already been using multiple channels, including SMS, email, Twitter and the web to crowdsource for social change.
A global community for visual thinkers and communicators who like to go beyond words and believe that visuals can be an effective communication tool
Data Visualization – Course
This course will serve as a introduction to the fundamental concepts of data visualization, and provide a structured environment for experimentation with a variety of methods in both digital and physical media. The course is offered by School of Visual Art, NY, USA
Some resources of the visual maps and complex data visualization
Information is beautiful
(this post is a follow-up of my earlier post on visual culture)