Visually presenting historical data attractively is a task that many historians have been presented with and has become an attractive option of formulating data. This is a very highly paid profession as it takes a keen eye and skill for presenting attractive historical data, and not simply a table of results or data. This new way of presenting information is an innovative method, and allows historians to engage with their audiences much more as it is an attractive option. Data visualisation takes information, whether that be from a table or another source, and forms a chart or graph that is visually easy to look at and also one that presents the data in a way that is easy to understand and is clear. There have been many instances both in recent times and throughout history where data has been presented in such a way. One such example is from Florence Nightingale, who used her own diagram, titled ‘Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East’, (1856), to present her findings on the lack of hygiene within the injured throughout the Crimean War. In her opinion many of the deaths that came as a result of injuries inflicted in battle, were preventable and therefore needed to formulate her findings in an attractive way, so that the men in authority could easily understand what she was trying to prove. Her methods was successful and she helped to change nursing to what we have today, and is credited with saving the lives of millions of injured soldiers through her help in changing how men are treated for injury. Another example of this in history comes from Charles Joseph Minard, who formulated his own diagram of the attack and retreat of Napoleon’s army on Moscow, titled simply, ‘Map of Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow – 1813-14′ (1869). In this diagram he presents two forms of line graphs. One details the size of the army as they march to Moscow and the other the size as they retreated home. This graphic presents the sheer horror of what the army faced, and that was not even with gun shots being fired. His data shows that the massive block at the start becomes increasingly thin as time and distance go on, and the change in weather conditions, to a very thin line. The retreat shows even more that the size of the army becomes horrifically small and the finishing line shows that of an army of around four hundred and twenty two thousand, only around four thousand made it home alive. What these two historical examples show us is that people have always been aware of the strength in using attractive charts and images to present otherwise boring information. More modern day examples are Slave Voyages Database which contains all the voyages of the transatlantic slave trade and users are able to search for specifics and these are represented by both tables and graphs. Therefore image visualisation has a proven record of success both in modern day and historically. Historians can use it to present their findings in a much more engaging way, and one that many people can find interesting
- Kostiantyn Kucher and Andreas Kerren, ‘ Text Visualization Browser: A Visual Survey of Text Visualization Techniques’, (2014)
- Jefferson Bailey and Lily Pregill, ‘Speak to the Eyes: The History and Practice of Information Visualization’, Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, vol. 33 (2014).