Visual Insights

Visual Insights

A Practical Guide to Making Sense of Data

By Katy Börner and David E. Polley

A guide to the basics of information visualization that teaches nonprogrammers how to use advanced data mining and visualization techniques to design insightful visualizations.





A guide to the basics of information visualization that teaches nonprogrammers how to use advanced data mining and visualization techniques to design insightful visualizations.

In the age of Big Data, the tools of information visualization offer us a macroscope to help us make sense of the avalanche of data available on every subject. This book offers a gentle introduction to the design of insightful information visualizations. It is the only book on the subject that teaches nonprogrammers how to use open code and open data to design insightful visualizations. Readers will learn to apply advanced data mining and visualization techniques to make sense of temporal, geospatial, topical, and network data.

The book, developed for use in an information visualization MOOC, covers data analysis algorithms that enable extraction of patterns and trends in data, with chapters devoted to “when” (temporal data), “where” (geospatial data), “what” (topical data), and “with whom” (networks and trees); and to systems that drive research and development. Examples of projects undertaken for clients include an interactive visualization of the success of game player activity in World of Warcraft; a visualization of 311 number adoption that shows the diffusion of non-emergency calls in the United States; a return on investment study for two decades of HIV/AIDS research funding by NIAID; and a map showing the impact of the HiveNYC Learning Network.

Visual Insights will be an essential resource on basic information visualization techniques for scholars in many fields, students, designers, or anyone who works with data.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262526197 312 pp. | 7.5 in x 9 in


  • In the world of visualization and information graphics, the bibliography about thematic maps and statistical graphs is becoming abundant, little by little. However, studies of how to design network diagrams and conceptual maps are rare, and usually available only through scientific publications. Katy Börner and David Polley's book is the first serious attempt at offering a theoretical and practical introduction to this discipline, aimed not just at specialists, but at any reader, regardless of her or his background. I foresee that it'll become the textbook of choice for many instructors.

    Alberto Cairo

    Professor of the Professional Practice at the School of Communication of the University of Miami and author of The Functional Art: an Introduction to InformationGraphics and Visualization

  • A good visualization is never done easy-peasy; good visualization is a science, a craft, and an art at once. If you want to become a visual data explorer and learn to produce meaningful visualizations, this book is a good guide for such a journey. It is a must-read for students at iSchools and those in the Digital Humanities, and a recommendation for inhabitants of the various interdisciplinary valleys in the science landscape.

    Andrea Scharnhorst

    Head of Research at Data Archiving and Networked Services and member of the e-humanities group at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • In this age of knowledge abundance, policymakers and the public need to quickly understand complex information, and this book takes a giant leap forward in this arena. The knowledge system has become a global enterprise, and it is one that involves collaboration and interdisciplinary linkages. These trans-boundary links require new metrics and the use of new methods of examination and explanation. Katy Börner and David Polley's book creates a map into the new knowledge terrain that we will all be transiting soon.

    Caroline S. Wagner

    Milton and Roslyn Wolf Chair in International Affairs; Director,Battelle Center for Science & Technology Policy, John Glenn School of Public Affairs, OhioState University

  • Following in the footsteps of the richly illustrated and highly informative book The Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know, Professor Katy Börner and David Polley's new book Visual Insights: A Practical Guide to Making Sense of Data brings theory and practice in seven manageable chapters to both new initiate and engaged user, giving an insightful overview of the field, and making accessible the methods and techniques to empower the reader to become a visualization practitioner.

    George Legrady

    Director of the Experimental Visualization Lab and Chair of the Media Arts & Technology doctoral program at the University of California, Santa Barbara