The Milestones Project: A database for the history of data visualization


Approaches to modern data visualization have evolved substantially from the first thematic maps of the 1600s and the first bar charts and line graphs in the early 1800s to the dynamic and interactive graphics of today. Over the course of this history, scholars have taken a variety of approaches to show how particular factors of interest have changed over time. The purpose of this chapter is threefold: first, to introduce the reader to an online resource called the Milestones Project. This website highlights important events in the history of data visualization, and enables users to interactively travel through time to see and explore the context that surrounded their developments. Secondly, we present some visual examples that deal with conveying aspects of history over time, drawn from this resource and discussed in terms of their goals, similarities, and differences. Finally, the Milestones database itself will be used to showcase how such a resource can serve as an interesting source of information for statistical historiography, which entails the use of statistical and graphical methods for the analysis and understanding of historical innovations, developments, and trends.

In M. A. Kimball & C. Kostelnick (Eds.), Visible Numbers. Ashgate Publishing.