Work and Dignity   /   Fall 2012   /    Gallery

A Graphic Renaissance

Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton

IT DOESN’T TAKE SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE TO  SEE  THAT  WE  ARE  CURRENTLY in the midst of a graphic renaissance, particularly in the realm of quantitative data. Online and digital tools, the ready availability of large data pools, and the need to com- municate information across linguistic divides are all leading factors in this development. Wonderful web resources, such as the word cloud machine at and the graphing devices for personal data at, highlight both the creativity of contemporary graphic designers and the technical power now at our fingertips. And such sites are only the tip of the iceberg. At Many Eyes from IBM Research, users choose among a wide variety of visualization tools, including word trees, histograms, and network diagrams, and share their visualizations and datasets with an open community. Common media outlets assume in their readers and viewers a basic competency in these sorts of visual languages. In 2010, the New York Times Learning Network declared an Infographics Week because, as they reported, “we know how important it is for students to be able to read and interpret visual representations of information.”

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