The utility of beautiful visualizations


L. Tateosian, R. Amindarbari, C. G. Healey, P. Kosik, J. T. Enns
Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), 2017, pp. 157-162

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Tateosian, L., Amindarbari, R., Healey, C. G., Kosik, P., & Enns, J. T. (2017). The utility of beautiful visualizations (pp. 157–162).

Tateosian, L., R. Amindarbari, C. G. Healey, P. Kosik, and J. T. Enns. “The Utility of Beautiful Visualizations.” In , 157–162. Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), 2017.

Tateosian, L., et al. The Utility of Beautiful Visualizations. 2017, pp. 157–62.


Geovisualizations provide a means to inspect large complex multivariate datasets for information that would not otherwise be available with a tabular view or summary statistics alone. Aesthetically appealing visualizations can elicit prolonged exploration and encourage discovery. Creating data geovisualizations that are effective and beautiful is an important yet difficult challenge. Here we present a tool for rendering geovisualizations of continuous spatial data using impressionist painterly techniques. The techniques, which have been tested in controlled studies, vary the visual properties (e.g., hue, size, and tilt) of brush strokes to represent multiple data attributes simultaneously in each location. To demonstrate this technique, we render two examples: 1) weather data attributes (e.g., temperature, windspeed, atmospheric pressure) from the NOAA Global Forecast System and 2) fragile state indices as assessed by the Foreign Policy Magazine. These examples demonstrate how open source geospatial visualizations can harness aesthetics to enhance visual communication and viewer engagement.