history

17 posts
The early beginnings of visual thinking

Visualization is a relatively new field. Sort of. The increased availability of data has pushed visualization forward in more recent years, but its roots go back centuries. Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer rewind back to the second half of the 1800s, looking at the rise of visual thinking. On the first construction of the periodic table of elements: On February 17, 1869, right after breakfast, and with a train to...

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What is R, what it was, and what it will become

Roger Peng provides a lesson on the roots of R and how it got to where it is now: Chambers was referring to the difficulty in naming and characterizing the S system. Is it a programming language? An environment? A statistical package? Eventually, it seems they settled on “quantitative programming environment”, or in other words, “it’s all the things.” Ironically, for a statistical environment, the first two versions did not...

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The role of cartography in early global explorations

For Lapham’s Quarterly, Elizabeth Della Zazzera turns back the clock to maps used for navigation, starting with the 1300s and through 1720: From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, European powers sent voyagers to lands farther and farther away from the continent in an expansionist period we now call the Age of Exploration. These journeys were propelled by religious fervor and fierce colonial sentiment—and an overall desire for new trade...

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History of the word ‘data’

Sandra Rendgen describes the history of “data” the word and where it stands in present day. All through the evolution of statistics through the 19th century, data was generated by humans, and the scientific methodology of measuring and recording data had been a constant topic of debate. This is not trivial, as the question of how data is generated also answers the question of whether and how it is capable...

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A musical journey in 1939, retold with visualization

In 1939, John and Ruby Lomax traveled through ten southern states in three months. They recorded music by individuals with the belief that the subtleties of music culture is best captured when a person plays for another face-to-face. The Texas Folklore Society’s founding members shared with Lomax a sense that their state’s rich folklore needed to be documented and preserved for the analysis of later scholars. Nascent technology such as...

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PowerPoint history lesson

David C. Brock writing for IEEE Spectrum delves into the origins of PowerPoint. PowerPoint is so ingrained in modern life that the notion of it having a history at all may seem odd. But it does have a very definite lifetime as a commercial product that came onto the scene 30 years ago, in 1987. Remarkably, the founders of the Silicon Valley firm that created PowerPoint did not set out...

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History of data visualization

I have an affinity for new things designed as old things, so this brief history of data visualization by RJ Andrews hits the spot. I have placed cartoons representing important works of data visualization along a fictitious scroll map in the style of Ogilby’s atlas. The road marches you through time, passing many charts, through towns (named for key contributors whose charts make up said towns), and over waterways that...

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1921 Mid-atlantic Rail and Ferry Map

A modern representation of old rail and ferry routes in the mid-atlantic.

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History lesson on data visualization

Clive Thompson for Smithsonian Magazine gives a quick history lesson on infographics. [D]ata visualization was rare because data was rare. That began to change rapidly in the early 19th century, because countries began to collect—and publish—reams of information about their weather, economic activity and population. “For the first time, you could deal with important social issues with hard facts, if you could find a way to analyze it,” says Michael...

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The Fallen of World War II

I don’t think most people realize how many Russians died during WWII and how that defined the rest of the 20th century. The below videographic tells the entire WWII story in detail.

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