Ignasi Alcalde is our project director in Catalonia, Spain, but he is also in possession of a enviable resume: Master’s degree in Information Society, teaching in Universidad Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and a teacher in the Master’s degree in Visual Analytic and Big Data. In this interview he tells us everything about the importance of his favorite universe: the data visualization, and his new book about this topic.
Why did you decide to write the book “Visualización de la Información: De los Datos al Conocimiento” (Visualization of the information: From Data to Knowledge)?
First of all, I wanted to resume my last two teaching years. I wanted to gather all the material i had, specially taking into account that there are only a few written in Spanish about this topic and there was a need to edit material in Spanish language.
What is the target of the text?
The idea is to arouse curiosity of the people with respect to this discipline; his story, visions, scope and tools. Currently there are some new working opportunities being opened in this field and I tried to reflect about the competences that a professional must have to dedicate himself to this job.
Who is this targeted to? Only to professional?
The book has a very evangelized language so any person can understand this discipline. It is really popularizer and introductory, my goal is that both journalists and companies or even people who don’t know anything about the topic can communicate their data in a better way. For example, i look for a person who works in a company, after reading it, to understand how to make his graphics in Excel in a more effective way.
Why do you think data visualization is an important topic for any company, today?
Firstly, I would say that we are living in a context of data superabundance: there is a saturation of information so intense so it makes us feel ‘information intoxicated’ In that context, data visualization allows an information comprehension; so readers can consume it in a very sedimentary, concrete and knowledge oriented.
Nowadays, we read increasingly less in the internet, actually, we don’t read: we scan the information. Therefore it is key for the visual data to be clear and accurate.
In which way does it ease the comprehension?
Human beings are visual, before reading and writing we draw. From that point we create the script. Nowadays we read increasingly less, actually we don’t read: we scan the information. Therefore it is key to make visual data clear and accurate. In the other hand, we can’t deny the social networks boom, where the knowledge which generates value is shared with the environment and the closest community. Therefore, visual and interactive information knowledge is which is going to prevail in the following years.
What importance do you give the infographics which are applied to the companies marketing strategies?
Infographics is much more than a marketing tool, it is a visual information architecture tool: they have an iconic, painterly and sedimentation language of knowledge and narrative.
The problem is that now they are trendy, and there are some which do not add value regarding knowledge, this is what we call “chocolate infographics”, beautiful to see, but with not a single real input as regard to knowledge: they don’t have a narrative structure well driven.
Infographics must give knowledge to the public, offer value with relevant and new information. It is a really powerful tool in terms of communication and marketing, as long as it is made to prioritize a quality content
How should good infographics be?
Infographics must give knowledge to the public, offer value with relevant and new information. It is a really powerful tool in terms of communication and marketing, as long as it is made to prioritize a quality content, oriented to the transmission more than the product direct selling.
To close this interview, What do you think it is the future of the infographics and the data visualization?
I think that it is an incipient discipline which is being born and evolving; that innovation will affect many sectors. It will be a change that will happen gradually, but it will start to display in areas like business and education, where infographics will be more present in the text , for example. I am a pioneer in boosting that my students present their projects or works with infographics. This means a process of looking for information, filter, connect and give it a graphical output. Therefore, when this process is followed, the student is understanding the matter which we want to make an infographics.
A third affected sector will be the open data, where the data visualization an the Big Data will help a government to take decisions in base of visual information no one could see before. An example a concept which is coming on are the so-called “Smart Cities”
In the other hand, I consider that know we are the twenty-first century alchemist, because the alchemy in the Middle Ages was oriented to work with the chemical components to generate gold, and the current gold is the information we can generate with these visualized data.