CHAPTER 1

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DATAVIZ

THE ART AND SCIENCE THAT BUILT A NEW LANGUAGE

HERE’S A BREAKNECK SYNOPSIS of data visualization’s development from simple communication tool to burgeoning cross-disciplinary science.

ANTECEDENTS

The first data visualization was probably drawn in the dirt with a stick, when one hunter-gatherer scratched out a map for another hunter-gatherer to show where they could find food. If data is information about the world, and if communication is conveying information from one person to another, and if people use five senses to communicate, and if, of those five senses, sight accounts for more than half our brain activity, then visualization must have been a survival tactic.1 Far from being a new trend, it’s primal. ...

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