Author: Jeff South

How humans perceive graphics

As I sit at the Hong Kong airport awaiting my flight to Italy, I saw this article on Medium, a popular publishing platform. It’s by a visual journalist at The Washington Post, and it relates to the data visualization work we did this past week:

39 studies about human perception in 30 minutes

Among other things, the article raises a fascinating question: Is data visualization a science or a language — or both? As Kennedy Elliot writes:

I don’t think data visualization or data storytelling is prescriptive; I think there are many options and an infinite number of possible visualizations, many we haven’t even discovered yet.

But perhaps it’s not purely a language either. Obviously there are biases and distortions we bring with us when viewing graphing frameworks and objects, some of which is learned, but some of which seems inherent.