What’s Visualization

Visualization has many meanings. In the 1980s, it indicated the process of visualizing large sets of spatial data, known as scientific visualization. Later on, the domain of visualization was expanded to abstract information, after Robertson, Card, and Mackinlav [1] defined the concept of information visualization.

In this context, visualization is a process of transforming information into a visual form, enabling users to observe, understand, and make sense of the information [2]. In addition, the term visualization has been used to refer to imaging techniques and display technology. Yet another meaning for visualization is aligned with more modern concepts of digital content and simulation.

In this later context, we can understand visualization as a simulation of environments and processes using convergent multimedia technology. In fact, several visualization products, such as games, movies, and defense applications, are convergent simulations. As a consequence, many sectors in industry and government tend to share visualization technologies, human resources, and processes. More details about this more extensive concept on visualization can be found in an article by Bruno Feijó [3].


  1. G. Robertson, S. Card, and J. Mackinlav, ‘‘Information Visualization Using 3D Interactive Animation,’’ Comm. ACM, vol. 36, no. 4, 1993, pp. 57-71.
  2. N. Gershon and W. Page, ‘‘What Storytelling Can Do for Information Visualization,’’ Comm. ACM, vol. 44, no. 8, 2001, pp. 31-37.
  3. Feijó, B. Visualization, Digital Content, and Simulation. IEEE Multimedia, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2009, pp. 8-12.