Topic

Data Visualisation

Data Trails No. 10 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

In the world of data visualisation there are only few works which are as universally celebrated as this 19th century statistical map about Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812. During this desastrous military endeavour a French army of 420,000 men was almost completely annihilated, only some ten thousand soldiers survived the catastrophe.

Data Trails No. 9 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

Picture this: you need to plot data describing two large geographic entities, spanning the enormous period of 1,700 years, and you have no interactive tools at hand. No software, no templates, no filter, no button, no zoom, no switch. How in the world are you going to create a compelling visualisation for this data set, one that enables both overview and insight into the details?

Data Trails No. 8 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

Oh, the Mississippi. The „Father of Waters“ is a heroic beauty with an eventful history, famous for its tendency to meander. At times, it poses a major threat to the people living along its shore.

Data Trails No. 7 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

Timelines seem like such a „natural idea“ these days that we don’t even notice their ubiquity anymore: Facebook timeline, news feeds, graphic interfaces for back-up versions – how did anyone manage their life before there were things like this?

Data Trails No. 6 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

Do you know that thing when you draft a project and anticipate it will come out nicely, and once you actually start looking into it things get really complicated? This is what happened to me with this severe beauty of a tree diagram here. I stumbled upon it in the Beinecke digital collections and was immediately thrilled about this hidden gem from back in 1608. Then I never came around to really studying it — until just now.

Data Trails No. 5 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

The Earth is roughly four and a half billion years old. During most of that time—i.e. over the course of some four billion years—the geological and biological development on our planet happened unbelievably slow. How can we possibly form even a faint idea of this unimaginable process that is the history of the Earth?

Data Trails No. 4 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

There is a very basic joy in roaming through atlases and in looking at maps. Atlases are rich collections of places, and if there is one thing they can do it is making you travel around the world, to places near and far.

Data Trails No. 3 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

Visualising data on health and mortality has a most up-to-date ring to it, as if it had required the rise of big data and computational tools for something as intricate as visual health statistics to develop.

Data Trails No. 2 – Snapshots from the history of data visualisation

Once we have grown used to a new technology, it is hard to turn back and imagine what it was like when it was all new and unheard of. We do not even have an idea of what it was like before the internet anymore.