The Changing Goals of Data Visualization | eagereyes
The visual representation of data has gone through a number of phases, with its goals switching back and forth between analysis and presentation over time. Many introductions to visualization tend to portray historical examples as all being done for the same purpose. That, I argue in this short, incomplete, and cherry-picked history, is not true.
Early to Mid–1800s: Playfair, Nightingale, Snow, Minard
The first uses of graphics to represent data, interestingly, were very bare and abstract, and at the same time were mostly tools for communication. The abstract nature of these early charts is surprising when you consider the amount of ornamentation and decoration that was common with even simple household objects in the early to middle of the 19th century. John Snow’s and Charles Minard’s maps were downright stark compared with many maps drawn at the time.