3. Ways of Seeing

Content for Tuesday, January 24, 2023


This week we will take a step back from coding and begin to learn more about the principles behind the design of good visualizations. Many of these principles will lead to rules of thumb, guidelines, and techniques that we will end up applying in the code we write. But it is also important to situate these ideas a little more generally. So we start not just with information design or data in particular, but with some questions about the nature of visual representation in general.


These readings are available on the Canvas website, in the Files section. (Duke Login Required.)

  • John Berger Ways of Seeing (London: BBC Books / Penguin, 1972). Chapter 1 and Chapter 7.
  • Edward R. Tufte The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1983). Chapter 1.


In addition to reading Berger, I recommend watching the first of the episodes of the TV program that went with the book:


Wednesday slides

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