p. 4: Not a history of visualization but “an outline of principles and precepts that structure visual forms of knowledge production and representation in graphic formats.”

pp. 5–6: “The majority of information graphics, for instance, are shaped by the disciplines from which they have sprung: statistics, empirical sciences, and business. Can these graphic languages serve humanistic fields where interpretation, ambiguity, inference, and qualitative judgment take priority over quantitative statements and presentation of ‘facts’?”

p. 6: Visualizations are always interpretations—data does not have an inherent visual form that merely gives rise to a graphic expression."

p. 9: “Most information visualizations are acts of interpretation masquerading as presentation. In other words, they are images that act as if they are just showing us what is, but in actuality, they are arguments made in graphical form.”

p. 19:

Indigenous peoples map their territory in vastly different conventions than western cultures, and with a different orientation to the globe itself. The point? Images have a history, but so do concepts of vision and these are embedded in the attitudes of their times and cultures as assumptions guiding the production and use of images for scientific or humanistic knowledge.

p. 23: “humanistic visual knowledge was bracketed out of his [mathematician René Thom] account with particularly good reason: its methods threaten the very foundations of epistemological stability and mathematical certainty that align with empirical tenants.”

p. 79: “The task of mapmaking requires a spatial imagination abstracted from direct observation or experience. In Making Space, John Rennie Short describes six distinct ‘spatial discourses: the construction of the gird; emergence of cosmography; the mappings of the world; the navigation of the oceans; the survey of the land; and the annexing of the colonial territories.’”

p. 82: “Maps, like other graphic conventions, construct normative notions about time, space, and experience that become so familiar we take them for accurate representations rather than constructions. The constructed experience of space cannot be presented in standard cartography any more than the variable concepts of temporally can be charted on a standard timeline.”

p. 89: “In the eighteenth century, the science of statistical analysis came into its own with unprecedented force.”

p. 89: “The emergence of modern states and the bureaucratic administration for their management drives this development accompanied by the rapid increase of uses of the”Terms of Number, Weight, and Measure. The propose of this new approach was to abstract quantitative information from human conditions. All bar charts, line graphs, and scatterplots bear the imprint of that administrative agenda through the assumptions of their metrics naturalize in images."

p. 90: “René Descartes’s seventeenth century work in analytical geometry established the mathematical basis for statistical graphs, for which ‘the principle of coordinates and the idea of functionality’ were ‘sufficient.’”

p. 93: “Florence Nightingale’s cockscomb formats were invented to catch attention, to grab the eye, and bring home the real circumstances of hospital conditions for the wounded in the American Civil War. They are presentational, rather than analytic. They area represented in the arcs is not proportional to the quantities they are supposed to represent. But they worked.”

p. 94: “Flow charts appeared in the early twentieth century, apparently for the first time in the presentation done by efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth.”

p. 97: “Tree diagrams contain the imprint of their allegorical origins by implying relations of hierarchy, categories, consanguity, derivation, and degrees of proximity.”

p. 121: “Edmond Halley is credited with creating the first meteorological chart when he mapped the winds on the surface of the globe in 1686. His arrows of wind direction are not systematic, but they do indicate unstable, changeable conditions.”

p. 125: Many visualization techniques were developed in disciplines separate from humanists. As such, “these graphical tools are a kind of intellectual Trojan horse, a vehicle through which assumptions about what constitutes information swarm with potent force.”

p. 125: “Data pass themselves off as mere descriptions of a priori conditions.”

p. 126: “humanists beginning to play at the intersection of statistics and graphics ought to take a detour through the substantial discussions of the sociology of knowledge and its critical discussion of realist models of data gathering.”

p. 126:

Because realist approaches to data visualization assume transparency and equivalence, as if the phenomenal world were self-evident and the apprehension of it a mere mechanical task, they are fundamentally at odds with approaches to humanities scholarship premised on constructivist principles."

p. 127: “the task of representing ambiguity and uncertainty has to be distinguished from a second task—that of using ambiguity and uncertainty as the basis on which a representation is constructed.”

p. 128: “the rendering of statistical information into graphical form gives it a simplicity and legibility that hides every aspect of the original interpretive framework on which the statistical data were constructed.”

p. 128: “Data are capta, taken not given, constructed as an interpretation of the phenomenal world, not inherent in it.”

p. 129: “By recognizing the always interpreted character of data we have shifted from data to capta, acknowledging the constructedness of the categories according to the uses and expectations for which they are put.”

p. 129: The “more profound challenge we face is to accept the ambiguity of knowledge”

p. 130: “all information is constructed

p. 131: “Capta is not an expression of idiosyncrasy, emotion, or individual quirks, but a systematic expression of information understood as constructed, as phenomena perceived according to principles of observer-dependent interpretation.”

p. 135: Suggests a model for humanities’ work:

  1. Modeling phenomenological experience in the making of humanities (data as capta, primary modeling, the representation of temporal and spatial experience);
  2. Modeling relations among humanities documents, i.e., discourse fields (a different metric might be needed to understand dates on diplomatic documents from the spring of 1944 or 1950);
  3. Modeling the representations of temporality and spatiality that are found in humanities documents (narrative is the most obvious);
  4. Modeling the interpretation of any of the above (depicting or graphing the performative quality of interpretation).