This was not a good day to inaugurate this column. Portugal just lost to Spain in Euro 2012 and, despite not considering myself as a football fanatic and being outside the country for almost a decade, I am sad. It would be a major victory for a country that desperately needs reasons to smile.
But the ‘football gods’ decided otherwise. Congratulations to Spain, for being able to keep their cycle of success in football, and the Spaniards, who also needed the good news to help them cope with the economic crisis.
As soon as the game ended, messages started pouring on Twitter and Facebook. It is something inevitable in this Digital Age. From all corners of the world, messages of support, sadness, joy and outrage. Millions of fans sharing their emotions online and forming a record, a fingerprint that can be visually captured and immortalized.
It didn’t take long for me to publish on HashTrash a map of the references to “Portugal”, as seen in Trendsmap. Nor had I any effort to use Visual.ly ‘s infographic creation tools for putting together a resume of how the hashtag #Portugal behaved in the last 30 days. And I still looked up to see how was the duel between the two Iberian countries on Twitter, with Twitter Venn (the graphics are at the end of this post).
Of course these examples are very simple, and it is legitimate to question their value in the context of some kind of professional context. They offer only an overview, a sensitive surface, quite different from what you can get working directly with the data from the APIs.
Even so, the number of tools available to anyone who wants to venture in the field of data visualization is increasing, and I am sure that this is still only the beginning. It is time to assume our condition as ‘visual beings’, recognizing the strength of ‘visuality‘ in the evolutionary process itself.
The technological advances of these last two decades are converging to a world of ubiquitous information, and I think a lot of people out there who, like me, have no professional background related to information visualization, are beginning to recognize its importance, its usefulness, and the need to start investing some time in learning a bit more about the subject.
Why? Because without them, understanding the new social paradigms is like trying to learn Geography without ever having seen a map: you can even memorize all the countries and capitals, but you will hardly be able to tell where they really are.
Cheers – and a special hug to all my fellow countrymen.
Created at Twitter Venn, em 27/06/2012