As this really smart Economist piece points out, we suddenly live in a vast universe of data, but most of it is just piling up because we don't yet know how to "extract wisdom" from it.
Well, in my experience, wisdom often comes from visualization, which is why I think data visualization is an essential piece of the new media DNA. A big part of the future of journalism, says Jay Rosen, is explanation. Context! Data visualization is pure explanation, pure context, instant wisdom.
Here's a perfect example. One of the major narratives designed to undermine renewable energies is is that they only exist because of a huge amount of federal financial assistance. That is true, but it's leaving out a big piece of the story. If a reporter relies only on that narrative he or she is doing a disservice to the reader. A story about subsidies for renewables is not giving the reader enough context if it does not mention that fossil fuels get much MORE federal assistance. And this handy little pie chart can make us instantly wise to the fact!
(source: Environmental Law Institute)
What is the future of data visualization as web journalism content? What was that thing that Buzz Lightyear said?
No, really though, projections are always tough. But I think it's a safe bet that data viz is gonna sell. Swing over to Katie Peek's blog, and I'm sure she can fill you in better than I can.