ABOUT THIS BOOK
A comprehensive history of data visualization—its origins, rise, and effects on the ways we think about and solve problems.
With complex information everywhere, graphics have become indispensable to our daily lives. Navigation apps show real-time, interactive traffic data. A color-coded map of exit polls details election balloting down to the county level. Charts communicate stock market trends, government spending, and the dangers of epidemics. A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication tells the story of how graphics left the exclusive confines of scientific research and became ubiquitous. As data visualization spread, it changed the way we think.
Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer take us back to the beginnings of graphic communication in the mid-seventeenth century, when the Dutch cartographer Michael Florent van Langren created the first chart of statistical data, which showed estimates of the distance from Rome to Toledo. By 1786 William Playfair had invented the line graph and bar chart to explain trade imports and exports. In the nineteenth century, the “golden age” of data display, graphics found new uses in tracking disease outbreaks and understanding social issues. Friendly and Wainer make the case that the explosion in graphical communication both reinforced and was advanced by a cognitive revolution: visual thinking. Across disciplines, people realized that information could be conveyed more effectively by visual displays than by words or tables of numbers.
Through stories and illustrations, A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication details the 400-year evolution of an intellectual framework that has become essential to both science and society at large.
The invention of graphs and charts was a much quieter affair than that of the telescope, but these tools have done just as much to change how and what we see.
-- Hannah Fry New Yorker
An indispensable account of how important practitioners of data visualizations write the history of their field.
-- Crystal Lee Information & Culture
We live in an era of data dependence—never before have graphic representations of data been as essential and sought after as at this moment…There has not been a publication of this scope on the evolution of graphic representation of qualitative and quantitative data since Funkhouser’s work…Scholars, practitioners, lovers of statistics and data visualization, and anyone interested in understanding the methods and techniques of today will benefit from understanding the innovations that brought us to where we are.
-- María del Mar Navarro Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation
A thoughtful and well-written introduction to the world of data visualization and its history.
-- Bill Satzer MAA Reviews
An intellectually fascinating book…The audience for this book is wide. It would be useful to professionals and to professors in many departments such as psychology, sociology, economics, biology, physics, and any department that uses graphs to display quantitative information. It is a book to broaden your knowledge and offer interesting asides for lectures and meetings…Consult it frequently to learn of the stories of the developers of the many graphic methods we use today.
-- Malcolm James Ree Personnel Psychology
A marvel of research scholarship…This is the sort of book that one can browse and sample in bite-size chunks as the mood seizes, encountering curious delights while doing so.
-- Bert Gunter Significance
A masterly study of graphic innovations, their context, and their scientific use. This brilliant book, without equivalent, is an indispensable read.
-- Gilles Palsky, coauthor of An Atlas of Geographical Wonders
Friendly and Wainer are the Watson and Crick of statistical graphics, showing us the history of the DNA structure that is the code of life for innovative visualizations.
-- Ben Shneiderman, founder of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab, University of Maryland
Data expertise is a fundamental prerequisite for success in our digital age. But exactly how, and when, have we learned to draw conclusions from data? For decades, Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer have been studying how data has informed decision-making, through visualization and statistical analysis. Replete with mesmerizing visual examples, this book is an eye-opening distillation of their research.
-- Sandra Rendgen, author of History of Information Graphics
Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer have given us a wonderful history of the dazzling field of data visualization. They bring new life to ancient death statistics and describe the artistic poetry used to display numbers. An intriguing story of how we have learned to communicate data of all types.
-- Stephen M. Stigler, author of The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom
Two of the most distinguished scholars of data visualization give us a glimpse of ancient attempts to quantify the world, before revealing the century-long revolution that led to the invention of modern statistics and many of the graphical methods we use today. I learned a lot from this book, and I think you will too.
-- Alberto Cairo, author of How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information
Friendly and Wainer demonstrate the amazing progress that has been made in data graphics over the past two hundred years. Understanding this history—where graphs came from and how they developed—will be valuable as we move forward.
-- Andrew Gelman, coauthor of Regression and Other Stories