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What is a visualization?

A visualization visualizing visualization.

A visualization visualizing visualization.


A visualization is a word for when you have created an image, diagram or animation to convey a message or an idea. Above is a visualization visualizing visualization.

When computers made it possible to create digital graphics, this opened up many possibilities for visualizing things. You could then more easily create 3D, data, and scientific visualizations. Great stuff!

Visualization or visualisation? This looks like a simple British/American divide but it is not. The z in visualize predates American usage and is common in both traditions. The Oxford English Dictionary prefers visualize. I like the z version because then you can use viz for a short, as in

“Have you seen that fantastic science viz?!”.

Thanks for reading,


This article is the first in a series called Marinations. The pieces focus on visualization, technology and nature. They are made by Julia Johansson who works at the information design studio Order order. The name Marinations is inspired by the expression of when thinking about something you can "let it marinate". Order order also has a fascination for jellyfish and other oceany things.

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