Rhetorics of Design and Visualization

The Humanities can best use visualization by keeping in mind and being articulate in the rhetoric of design. Form makes a claim: every graphic representation embodies some rhetoric. "Data" is just as susceptible to "style," and unintended and alternate readings as any other representation. 


The concern is more pronounced in such research-related expressions as it is commonly thought that there exists an "undesigned," neutral design that is purged of subjective meanings. "Information design" derives primarily from the high Modernist "Swiss International Style" that is premised upon intellectual principles that are largely debunked. Before getting to a question of "better usage," we can reasonably ask if what is commonly done is meeting a minimal standard of accurately and efficiently reflecting the presenters' intention.




Your comments actually remind me of my first statistics courses. It was there that I learned that there are graphs and charts better suited to particular kinds of data (none of which was related to the Swiss International Style). We covered similar questions in a course on Visual Rhetoric. I think it is really important to remember how we easy it is to manipulate images and to look for ways that information in privileged in different data visualization. 

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