Escaping Flatland/Things That Make Us Smart
The need for data visualization has existed long before any concept of a graphical user interface and it is now more important than ever to be able to master the skill of conveying information in its most clear and useful form. In my past experience in research biology, figures are the key component of presenting your work. This includes not only meaningful representation of raw data, but also the accompanying labeling texts. Because direct interpretation is saved for within the body of the manuscript, the visual information must be presented in a way to guide the reader to the intended inferences, while maintaining scientific integrity. Peer reviewers scrutinize figures heavily for clarity and honesty.
Socrates did not believe reading could provide reflective thought, though I think the frequent use of image represented information now would convince him otherwise. Creating visuals that are meant to convey the outcome of a task, whether it be an instruction or data from an experiment, requires the author to capture some moment in time, and the reader to accurately perceive that moment again through mental reconstruction. Obviously this becomes complex and dependent on the reader’s knowledge of the subject and the author’s ability to display the information, all requiring careful examination and reflection.