What took so long for viz?

Visualized data seems as natural as eating and sleeping, doesn’t it? Yet the first economic time-series wasn’t plotted until 1786, according to our patriarch of viz Edward Tufte in his 1983 book Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

What took so long? I suppose humanity really did suffer from lack of an Excel chart wizard. People had been making maps for centuries, but apparently no one had made the leap from maps to abstract quantities like time and money. That wasn’t so easy to do, after all. You can’t just scratch numbers in your clay, you have to think about it first.

It all comes back to what’s probably already a cliche: simple is hard.

Still, what took so long?


  1. Juan says:

    Good question. Now the other part of it why it has taken so long to get to the point we are at now in terms of data visualization, and overall data analysis. And this is not definitely about the technology or tools, but the organizational maturity to analyze and consume information in more efficient ways.

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