August 31, 2009

Information Visualization Manifesto [updated]

Manuel Lima posted an Information Visualization Manifesto at his blog at Visual Complexity and it's already generated an interesting discussion.

While acknowledging a middle ground for discovery and beauty, Lima draws a distinction between information visualization and information art, which is more often vernacular eye-candy. Here are Lima's 10 directions for any project in this realm:
  • Form Follows Function (not data)
  • Start with a Question
  • Interactivity is Key
  • Cite your Source
  • The power of Narrative
  • Do not glorify Aesthetics
  • Look for Relevancy
  • Embrace Time
  • Aspire for Knowledge
  • Avoid gratuitous visualizations
More on Lima's work can be found in an illustrated video interview by, the presentation at IxDA Interaction'09 (slides), and in a forthcoming video from TEDGlobal 2009. A previous post How to Lie with Video Data noted how sometimes it's not only forecasters that forget that a model is not reality.

Update: BBH Labs has some thoughts in From Art to Apps: Data Visualisation finds a purpose and “Do not glorify aesthetics”: a manifesto for Data Visualisation? See also summary of the TED re-presentation ‘Network Visualization in an Age of Interconnectedness’ – Manuel Lima Talks at BBH by Joe Fry.

Update 2: Lima takes another look at a few loose ends from his particular viewpoint and notes a Wired reference, and Robert Kosara of ( looks for a new term, Not Visualization, but Visual Analysis.

Update 3: Cool Infographics notes a mash-up of Lima's main site,
"Bestario has created reMap, an interactive portal to view all of the infographics posted on, and it's amazing. They've created semantic connection between the different infographics using tags tat allow for an incredible browsing experience."

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