This Ted talk by David McClandless is worth watching. I agree with his observation that data visualization is really the process of using Design as a means of solving problems and creating elegant solutions. He points out that information overload is now a very serious problem and data visualization is one powerful way to make sense of it.
I agree and will even go further and suggest that without data visualization (an important new emerging industry), we will experience paralysis.
Enjoy – as with all TED talks it is no longer than 18 minutes.