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Data visualizations are so ubiquitous that it's easy to forget just how remarkable they are. They've become a universal form of storytelling, a common global language that relies on our ability to discern patterns rapidly. This O'Reilly report examines different ways that data scientists and analysts use visualizations not only for presentation, but also as a key step in the early stages of data analysis.

Through interviews with analysts, academics, data scientists, and vendors, Mike Barlow reveals how exploratory visualization can help analysts see something they might have missed when the data was in tabular form. Exploratory visualizations can be obtuse and unrefined, while explanatory visualizations are fine-tuned to reveal specific insights.

And it's the fine-tuning that concerns critics: do many visualizations provide a simplified picture or take data out of context? How clean is the data before visualization? This report provides a fascinating look into today's abundant supply of visualized information.

Mike Barlow is an award-winning journalist, author, communications strategy consultant, and co-founder of Cumulus Partners.
http://www.oreilly.com/data/free/data-visualization-storytelling.csp