The Use of Data Visualization to Drive Social Change Open Access

Boeker, Ava Justine (2015)

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This paper examines the history of data visualization and its early and current uses in the business and political spheres. I then go on to theorize about the opportunities for data visualization use in the nonprofit space. Data visualization provides individuals and organizations with an opportunity to better understand and utilize data and information in the organization, allowing them to function more efficiently in service of their mission. It can also help to generate external support for social causes by presenting data around an issue and encouraging users to engage with the information. Due to a recent shift of data visualization experts away from the business world and into the nonprofit space, the increasing availability of user-friendly data visualization software, and the ability for contemporary data visualizations to capture an emotional connection and engage viewers with a subject, I conclude that data visualization has enormous upside potential and will soon be an established part of nonprofit work and become integral to the success of these organizations.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Approaches to Data Visualization 3

Earliest Data Visualization 5

Current Data Visualization and Business Performance 12

Current Data Visualization Capabilities in the Political Sphere 18

The Potential for Data Visualization in Cause-Based Organizations 25

Employment trends in data visualization 27

Democratization of data visualization tools 31

The role ofemotional connection in data visualization 36

The Importance ofVisualization in Data Presentation 39

Limitations of Argument 41

Conclusion 46

References 48

Appendix 54

Figure 1 54

Figures 2 & 3 55

Figures 4 & 5 56

Figures 6 & 7 57

Figures 8 & 9 58

Figure 10 59

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