The terms "data visualization" and "infographics," are often used interchangeably. It's understandable as the meanings often overlap. Data is often associated with information. The words visualization and graphics have a relationship that are both different and the same.

A discussion on Quora is providing some context about the terms and how they interrelate. That's a discussion just starting, based mostly upon the rising popularity of the practices. The conversation on the Quora thread could use some more perspectives. But we expect that topics such as these will see more attention this year, especially as more of these visuals are created. This medium's popularity will certainly grow considering its pop art nature and storytelling capability, and the cloud will continue to be an important part of its surge.

We are relying more on Quora for research and story ideas. So please let us know if you are on Quora and we'll look out for your topics, comments and questions. You may find me on Quora as well as Klint Finley, who writes here and on our Enterprise and Hack channels.

The discourse is demonstrative of how the science of data is mixing with the narrative of storytelling and interactive technologies.

It's also demonstrative of how new these terms are as evident in the Google Trends search results.

Data visualization:

Infographic:

Quora Discussion

Benjamin Wiederkehr of Datavisualization.ch:

While I agree with Paul Marcum that Information Graphics often display non-quantifiable information, I would not make the distinction there. Maps for example are often part of data visualization, too.

Here's how I see the distinction:

Information graphics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge often used to support information, strengthen it and present it within a sensitive context.
They are specific, context-sensitive and often times hand-crafted.

Data visualizations are visual displays of measured quantities by means of the combined use of a coordination system, points, lines, shapes, digits, letters quantified by visual attributes.
They are general, context-free and often times created automatically.

Both can be static, animated or interactive.

So, I think the difference is more about the objective. Information graphics are used to tell a story or answer a question. Data visualizations are used to let the user find his own story or answer.

Considering this, what would you call this video featured on datavisualization.ch?



Hjalmar Gislason, founder and CEO of DataMarket.com:

As the debate shows, there is no clear distinction. Yet we all seem to have some sort of - somewhat personal - feeling for what is an infographic and what is a data visualization.

Here's mine:
A data visualization is a graphical representation of quantifiable data, usually by means of well-known chart, graph or map types. Although they can be created by hand, they can always be generated by applying automated methods on top of the data.
An infographic is a graphical representation that combines one or more data visualizations with other non-data elements - such as graphics or text - to point out relationships, show a process or tell a story that cannot be automatically discerned from the data alone. An infographic requires the application of a creative process with some understanding of the underlying data and its context.

Datamarket.com provides data and statistics about Iceland.

Urbanization in Iceland from 1901 / Búseta á Íslandi frá 1901 from hjalli on Vimeo.

Kim Rees, partner at Periscopic.com:

....I would say that infographics are really a subset of data/info visualizations. An infographic is static by definition. They are graphics.

A data/info visualization may be static, but most often these are interactive and allow the viewer to explore the data/information in different ways.

Infographics and data visualizations may use the same data, multiple datasets, APIs, etc. However, an infographic is always static.

Periscopic.com is a Portland based company that develops online visualizations such as the state of the salmon in the Pacific Ocean.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these statements?