2. Forms and Functions: Visualization as a Technology

The usefulness of a graph can be evaluated only in the context of the type of data, the questions the designer wants the readers to answer, and the nature of the audience.

Stephen M. Kosslyn, from Graph Design for the Eye and Mind

The fact that an information graphic is designed to help us complete certain intellectual tasks is what distinguishes it from fine art. Rather than serving as a means for the artist to express her inner world and feelings, an infographic or visualization strives for objectivity, precision, and functionality, as well as beauty. In short:

The function constrains the form.

In this chapter I will explore this idea and its usefulness for infographics and visualization, ...

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