How would WOPR describe a recession? I suppose a little like this. There are collections of creative visualizations like Data Beautiful and theorists like Edward Tufte from whom we can draw rules for the visual display of information. But how do we use creative (visual) expression of knowledge to portray complex, deep and novel theoretical claims? If I have new scholarship and want to convey that new scholarship to my colleagues, is there a time when the best method of conveying that scholarship is non-narrative and non-textual? Or are visualizations better-suited for the purpose of illustration or pedagogy? Are they a spice that cannot stand on their own or can we make claims in multimedia that we cannot make using traditional linear text? And if so, what are the best examples of such claims?
I gravitate toward maps, both physical and conceptual. Flowcharts as slices of models also seem ripe with potential. And, of course, conceptualizations of “The Future” always contain animations and flashy visualizations that happen to be well-suited for portrayal in an episode of Star Trek, various attacks on the Death Star, or a Matthew Broderick vehicle from the 80s.