Tag: Isotype Institute

09
Jan

ISOTYPE: The Inclusion Factor

TheresWorkForAll_02

From the Humantific Collection here are more early Isotype Institute visualizations. Today in some circles, these might be referred to as “data visualizations” or “infographics”, previously referred to as “statistical graphics”, “picture statistics”, “pictorial statistics”, “information design” and or “information visualizations”.  :-) No shortage of terms now in play. If we want to use such terms these might be thought of as societal context infographics made with a specific, very practical purpose in mind.

Close to our own Humantific work, in terms on social change-making intention, we have deep respect for the work of Isotype [International System of Typographic Picture Education] Institute. Led by Otto Neurath [1882-1945], Isotype was a pioneer in the realm of what we know today to be Social SenseMaking. In the tsunami of data visualizations being generated today it is important to note some fundamental differences.Continue Reading..

05
Jun

Portrait of Sonoma County Launches

We are delighted to announce the launch of A Portrait of Sonoma County.

A Portrait of Sonoma County is part of the Measure of America social sensemaking book series created by Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis of the The Measure of America team in collaboration with Humantific. The Measure of America is an initiative of the Social Science Research Council. For more information visit measureofamerica.org

Key Findings:

An entire decade separates the life expectancies in the top and bottom census tracts.

Those who are born in Kenwood/Glen Ellen can expect to live 75.2 years, while those in Central Bennett Valley average 85.7 years.

Analysis of Sonoma County’s ninety-nine tracts shows a clear positive correlation between life expectancy and education: people in neighborhoods with higher educational attainment and enrollment have longer lives.

Variation in educational outcomes by census tract in Sonoma County is significant and meaningful. The range in the percentage of adult residents with less than a high school diploma is huge, going from a low of 0.4 percent in North Oakmont/Hood Mountain to a high of 46.1 percent in Roseland Creek. The range in school enrollment is likewise vast, from 53.8 percent in Forestville to 100 percent in Central East Windsor.

Men in Sonoma County earn about $8,500 more than women. This wage gap is similar to the gap between men and women at the state level, although it is around $1,000 smaller than at the national level.

Buzz:

The Press Democrat

Sonoma County Gazette

California United Ways

Healthy Sonoma

05
Mar

Data Visualization Meets Co-Creation

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 6.08.56 PM

The good folks at Markets for Good / A Social Sector Powered by Information recently invited Humantific to contribute to their exploratory conversation on the subject of Data Visualization in the social sector.

You can read the full unedited version of GK VanPatter’s contribution including references to deciphering your organizational challenges in this downloadable PDF: Data Visualization Meets CoCreation or read the short version on the Markets for Good blog.

“Time is flying by around the Big Data phenomenon so let’s shift gears and kick it up a few notches from what your readers might be expecting here… Big Data is occurring, not in isolation, but rather in parallel to numerous other paradigm shifts …Lets set aside the tactics of Big Data for a moment and consider the bigger strategic picture…What these new generation leaders have in mind looks more like data thinking meets complex problem visualization, data meets and informs strategic cocreation.” GK VanPatter

Humantific Survey / Social Sector Challenge Mapping

From the 10 challenges listed in the attached document choose 3 challenges that are most important to your organization right now and place them in chronological order of importance (with most important at the top). Feel free to post them on the Markets for Good blog or below. If you have another challenge not listed, feel free to add it to your list.  We will share the results.

Related Posts:

Markets for Giving Workshop

Markets For Good Heavy Lift

Mapping Markets For Good

11
Nov

ReAppreciating Fritz Kahn

fritzKahnCoverCongratulations to our friends and colleagues Thilo von Debschitz and Uta von Debschitz for the successful redesign and republishing of the new expanded 390 page volume on Fritz Kahn. Bigger and better than the previous 2011 version this large format 2013 monograph will become an inspiring historical volume for many interested in the early days of what might be called metaphorical or analogous information design.

Inside are wonderful early versions of several forms of information design (now often being redepicted as “info-graphics”) including data visualizations and idea or concept visualizations. You don’t have to agree with every idea to appreciate the richness of this amazing work.Continue Reading..

08
Jul

VISUALIZED Berlin Conference

VisualizedBerlin

Humantific is delighted to announce our co-sponsorship of the upcoming VISUALISED Berlin Conference to be held on October 5th. We liked many of the explorations that we saw in New York at VISUALIZED 2012 so we are excited to see what comes out of this Berlin conference event this fall.

Apart from the current marketplace preoccupation with “data visualization” we understand the bigger picture, that visual sensemaking has a long history and remains in a state of change across multiple paths today. One of those paths is what is going on around the VISUALIZED community and it remains a rapidly changing neighborhood in the broader visual sensemaking ecology. We like experimental gatherings sharing new work and we think this event holds significant promise in this direction.

EarlyBird tickets are already sold out! 

Click here for more VISUALIZED Berlin information and/or register.

Can’t make it to Berlin on October 5th? Stay tuned for the next event in New York, in early 2014 here!

Related:

SenseMaking for ChangeMaking

Out of Balance Competition Winners Announced

ReAppreciating Richard Saul Wurman

Before, During & After Isotype

Lost Stories Information Design History

 

11
Apr

Out of Balance Competition Winners

The international competition: “OUT OF BALANCE – CRITIQUE OF THE PRESENT, Information Design after Otto Neurath” has announced the 2012 winners. Organized by the Berlin based magazine ARCH+ and the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, the competition was sponsored by Humantific, Autodesk, and Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst. The competition judging took place recently in Berlin.

PRESS RELEASE Translated from German: “There were 180 entries submitted to the competition by 499 participants, who organized themselves in teams of varying sizes. About 62 per cent of the participants were students, the rest came from freelance offices or temporary working groups. The high percentage of students can be explained by the fact that the design or architecture faculties of a number of universities have incorporated the competition into their curriculum. The participants from the fields of architecture and environmental planning constitute about 49 per cent, and about 37 per cent hail from the fields of design, the fine arts, film, photography and new media. The remaining 14 per cent come from the social sciences, economics, communication studies, cultural studies, journalism and other professions.

It was not easy to make a selection among the 180 entries submitted. The jury decided to award six first prizes 2000 €, six second prizes 1000€, and five commendations 400 € (see the appendix). The pleasingly high number of competitors from 18 countries demonstrates the broad international interest not only in Information Design but also in the burning questions of today.

The pollution of the environment and the ecological footprint of the affluent societies constituted a larger thematic complex within the framework of the competition, with a special emphasis on possible changes of behavior. The social division of society as a result of increasing disparities of income was picked out as a central theme in many of the entries and examined with regard to the inequality of opportunity and to the effects of poverty on the living conditions. Onemain focal point in this context was the analysis of socio-spatial segregation by examining concrete examples of individual cities. Migration and “migrant labor” were taken up as a phenomenon which becomes more and more important against the backdrop of globalization, and both were documented with regard not only to social exclusion but also to the cultural enrichment of society.

Some entries dealt exclusively with the disastrous living conditions of migrant workers. A further thematic complex accentuated the public tasks and services which constitute the basis of the cohesion of a society: educational institutions, health care, provision of affordable accommodation, etc. Here the main attention was directed to the questions of accessibility and of the effects of privatization.

In the context of the problem of societal cohesion it also came to an analysis of the processes of political education, formation of opinion and participation. The graphic transformation of the contents is as diverse as the subject matters chosen by the competitors.

Following Otto Neurath, many entries developed their own iconography and original graphic forms in order to depict quantitative relations. Aside from these »classic« information diagrams there were also attempts at other, completely new ways of conveyance and of addressing the audience. And, most strikingly, it was not so much the technical potential of electronic media but methodical considerations which played a central role.

In Information Design, aside from the depiction of empirical facts via quantitative details – Neurath’s “language of numbers” –, the directly conveyed statement via qualitative aspects seems to gain in significance. As much as these approaches may differ, they have one thing in common: the recourse to narrative forms in the communication of contents. Or, briefly, a story is told.

Whether graphically or photographically, cinematographically or linguistically, whether with the means of collage or in the form of separate depictions, whether as fiction or as satire, whether with understatement or with hyperbole – all this is more or less of secondary importance against the experimental character of this new form of “information diagram”.

The results of the competition will be published in a special edition of ARCH+, and there are also plans to organize a small exhibition which will travel between the various universities involved in the competition.

Jury:

Heinz Bude, Social Scientist/Economist
Joost Grootens, Graphic Artist
Sabine Kraft, Editor ARCH+
Joachim Krausse, Cultural Scientist
Philipp Oswalt, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation
Philippe Rekacewicz, Geographer/Cartographer
Simon Rogers, The Guardian
Christian Weiss, Autodesk
GK VanPatter, Humantific
Ursula Kleefisch-Jobs, M:AI

You can download the PDF of winning entries in English here.

PRIZES: CATEGORY 1

Feel at Home in Your Home
Team (TU Berlin): Eleonore Harmel (Architecture), Mathias Burke (Architecture)

A Glimpse Over the Horizon
Team (YAAY, Basel, Switzerland): Indre Grumbinaite (Designer), Darjan Hil (Economist), Safak Korkut (Visual Communication), Nicole Lachenmeier (Designer), Kurosch Hadinia (Sociologist)

The Social Question of Democracy
Team (Berlin University of the Arts): Simon Schindele (Design), Young Sam Kim (Design), Philipp Koller (Design), Dovile Aleksaite (Design), Theresia Kimmel (Design), Sebastian Bödeker (Social Sciences)

Eisenhüttenstadt Out of Balance
Team (BTU Cottbus): Martin Maleschka (Architecture), Konstanze Jonientz (Architecture)

Chinese MigrantWorkers
Team (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing/China): Wu YiTing (Design), Ma Pengbin (Design), Hou Ruimiao (Design), Gao Yang (Design), ZhuWenqi (Design)

Urban Soil in the Anthropocene
Development (University of Virginia/USA): Seth Denizen (Landscape Architect)

PRIZES CATEGORY 2

World Food
Team (HfG, Schwäbisch Gmünd): Stefanie Huber (Design), Sara Hausmann (Design), Diana Mühlhauser (Design)

Meat Eats Life
Development (Aachen University of Applied Sciences): Verena Mandernach (Design)

The Gutters are Filled with Gold
Team (SV, Berlin): Nayeli Zimmermann (Designer), Jenny Baese (Designer), Thomas Le Bas (Designer), Hanna Hilbrandt (Architect), Fiona McDermott (Architect), Anna Richter (Social Scientist), Laura Colini (Architect)

Shisha Bar as Social Environment
Development (RWTH Aachen): Michel Kleinbrahm (Architecture)

From Continuous Flow to Prepaid Drops
Team (ParaArtFormations, Berlin): Marcela Lopez (Ecologist), Miodrag Kuc (Architect), Juan Esteban Naranjo (Designer)

Bradford: Liquid Mixotopia
Team (Manchester School of Architecture, UK): Paul Gallacher (Architecture), Jack Stewart (Architecture), Abhi Chauhan (Architecture), Fatimah Abboud (Architecture), Hu Lin (Architecture)

COMMENDATIONS: 

Luxury Dirt
Team (Aachen University of Applied Sciences): Ulrike Rechmann (Design), Julia Roß (Design)

Wasteland
Team (BerlinWeißensee School of Art): Julia Pietschmann (Design), Henriette Artz (Design), Sebastian Jehl (Design)

‘Mainstay of Democracy’ or Mindless Papers with Opinion-Forming Power?
Team (fraujansen kommunikation): Angela Jansen (Design), Dr. Christian Gotthardt (Sociologist), Dr. Gert Hautsch (Journalist), Gerd Siebecke (Journalist)

The Sea-Level is Rising
Team (Berlin): Niklas Kuhlendahl (Architect), Max Soneryd (Artist)

Data is a Matter of Perspective
Team (Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel): Uwe Steffen (Design), Benedikt Schipper (Design)

 

 

You can see the descriptions in German here

Hopefully next year we will see many more entries from the USA!

Related:

Learning From Otto Neurath See Here:

Before, During & After Isotype
Isotype Building Bridges

 

 

30
Jan

Lost Stories Information Design History

In a competitive business marketplace, not everyone wants to acknowledge that each generation tends to learn from, build on, or divert from the previous generation’s ideas and output. We see this phenomenon clearly evident in the various streams of Visual SenseMaking history.

Predating the important work of Isotype Institute are numerous landmarks in the history of Statistical Graphics, which later evolved into Information Design—some aspects of which evolved into “Information Architecture” and then in a different direction “Visual SenseMaking” today, a subsubsetset of which has evolved into Data Visualization (long story for another day). Some historical landmarks are well known to many, while others remain off most radar screens, especially to new generations. Particularly online, we notice a general lack of historical awareness and crediting in many current data visualization, design and innovation-related discussions.

At Humantific, we have significant interest in the forgotten stories, lost stories, and off-the-beaten-path landmarks of sensemaking and changemaking history, as they have the potential to inform present day understanding significantly. We try to gather such stories and make them part of the collection that we share here publicly. One such landmark publication is Willard Cope Brinton’s 1917 book, Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts.

Willard C. Brinton (1880-1957) remains a relative unknown, one of several largely unsung, historical visual thinking pioneers. No entry for Brinton appears on Wikipedia, for example. Who he was, what he did, and why it was important is one of many stories buried in the history of Information Design.

Published in black and white when Brinton was thirty-four years old, the 371 page Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts is an impressive, early survey of what would today be considered to be bare-bones statistical diagrams and graphic techniques that existed at that moment. Now scarce in original form, this early volume is recognized as the first American book focused on graphic techniques geared for a general audience.

What a rockin’ idea it must have been in 1917 to do a “visual thinking techniques” book! From the book’s introduction: “As far as the author is aware, there is no book published in any language covering the field which it has been attempted to cover here.”

In the book, Brinton refers to himself as a “Consulting Engineer,” and member of the Society of Mechanical Engineers. He had an office here in New York City! He was Chairman of a committee on standards for graphic presentation formed in 1914, as well as a fellow of the American Statistical Association.  An engineering approach is clearly evident, as is the focus on building diagrams based on data, statistics, and facts. Notably, Brinton’s orientation in the book is one of advisor and commentator on the assembled work of others—an orientation that can also be seen, much later, in the work of Edward Tufte.

Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts contains numerous gems, including one particularly significant page in 20th century information design history. On page 39 (shown middle above), one can see an important design idea that Isotype is often given credit for originating. The evolutionary notion of repeating figure icons, rather than increasing their size, to depict size of a group became part of Isotype’s now well-known visual language style. Rumor has it, that Brinton’s book was in Otto Neurath’s 1920’s library. Ninety+ years after it appeared in Brinton’s book, this design idea, in refined form, is still very much in use today.

The truth is, much of the early writing on the subject of Statistical Graphics tends to be tactical; Brinton writes, in his comments, on a particular diagram by others: “This is an admirable piece of presentation even though the lettering and drafting are not quite as good as they might have been if more care had been used…” This kind of tactical commentary on now-out-of-date techniques makes up a large part of the book. Even today, many techniques in any technology get dated very quickly. It is often hard to know what has legs, and what will be gone tomorrow.

Street-parade-charts-p343

At Humantific, we are generally less interested in rapidly dated tactics, and more interested in broader considerations. What we do is look at historical Information Design materials through a time-oriented viewing frame, a simple 3-part lens that we call SenseWHEN. Apart from technique considerations, we want to know: WHEN was the focus of the picture being viewed? Was the goal to create a sensemaking picture of  Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow? We also want to know, at what scale were the views taken? Is this a picture of a person, a product, an organization, or a society?

Utilizing these simple viewing lenses, we notice that much of Information Design history, including that appearing in this early book, has been focused on creating sensemaking pictures of Yesterday and Today. Most often, these are pictures that can be constructed from data sets and facts. Much less frequently in that history, do you see pictures of Tomorrow. This is an entire subject unto itself that we will be writing more about, as it connects directly to what we do at Humantific: How can pictures of Tomorrow be cocreated in real time, by humans from multiple disciplines? It remains a subject that is near and dear to us. It certainly does connect to the history of Information Design seen here, but is rather different in orientation.

If Brinton preceded Neurath’s Isotype, you might be wondering: Who preceded Brinton? In his later, much more graphic, 1939 self-published book entitled Graphic Presentation, Brinton acknowledged that he did not know of the earlier groundbreaking work of William Playfair (1759-1823) when he was working, in 1912, on Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts. Brinton dedicated his 1939 book to Playfair, who is credited with creating some of the earliest examples of diagrams in his 1786, 1801, 1805, and 1822 books. William Playfair was also an Engineer, making pictures of Yesterday and Today.

For those who might not know—yes, before Playfair, there was Joseph Priestly (not an Engineer) who made timelines of Yesterday and Today. On and on it goes…:-)

Images Source: Brinton, Willard Cope. Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts. 1917. Diagrams by Willard Cope Brinton & Others. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

Data Visualization Meets CoCreation

Humantific: SenseMaking for ChangeMaking

Humantific: The OTHER Design Thinking

Making Sense of Early SenseMakers

 

16
Jan

Making Sense of Industries

We love and respect the complex history of what has become the sensemaking profession today. Here are more example images from Humantific’s Isotype Institute Collection. These are from 1955.

The Vienna-based Isotype Institute team, active in the 1920s-1950s, is widely recognized as an early pioneer in the commercial application of visual sensemaking. They applied their unique skill-set to the explanation of many business subjects, in addition to their social subjects work. These “Isotype Charts” are part of a 16-diagram series that explains the chemistry, manufacture, and use of plastics, with an emphasis on their application in the building industries. They appeared in the 1955 book, entitled Plastics and Building.

Isotype Institute work was not always focused on driving towards changemaking. In examples like this one, their focus was on explaining existing conditions within industries—what we would call the “today” picture—without any particular reference or speculation about the “tomorrow” picture.

Today, Humantific would consider this to be part of the Yin (without the Yang) component of changemaking. Pictures of “today” are not only helpful in constructing collective understanding of existing conditions—they are also great jumping-off points for cocreating futures.

We might point out that Isotype Institute was not just making sense of data-sets and information. They were looking at, and deciphering, many complex phenomena taking place in the field of focus, much of it rather abstract—including processes, chemical compositions, and various applications. They were using skills which can be referred to as information design, but they were not just designers of information. They could make sense of any subject, regardless of its state. From the Humantific perspective, they were early professional sensemakers. Their professional sensemaking often informed and accelerated the everyday sensemaking of others operating in organizational settings and in the public realm.

The output of Isotype Institute is immensely impressive and still highly influential today.

More on Isotype Institute

More on Otto Neurath, Gerd Antz & Maria Neurath

Note: For those interested in the finer points of Information Design history, we will point out three additional details:

1. Design was not a word that was used within Isotype Institute.

2. Isotype images were not made by individuals, but rather by a collaborative effort, within which the ‘Transformer” played a significant role—acting as Mediator, Organizer, Shaper between the information research and the graphic form.

3. Otto Neurath died in 1945, at the age of 63. Some see significant differences in images acredited to Isotype made after this date.

Image Source: Mactaggart, E. F. and H. H. Chambers. Plastic and Building. 1955. Diagrams designed by the Isotype Institute. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

Social Visual SenseMaking / InfoGraphics 1890

Humantific Teaching Visual SenseMaking

03
Oct

ReAppreciating Otto Neurath

At Humantific, we have tremendous respect for the work of the early Social SenseMaking pioneers—among them, the central figures of Isotype Institute: Otto Neurath (1882-1945), Gerd Arntz (1900-1988) and Marie Neurath (1898-1986).

In the Humantific Collection, we have numerous Isotype (International Picture Language System) artifacts. We will share some of the lesser-known example diagrams here, in this inspiration archive.

Based initially in Vienna, what the relatively small Isotype group was able to accomplish in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s remains a towering achievement in the practice of what we know today as Social SenseMaking.

At Humantific, we are interested in the Before, During, and After-Isotype eras, acknowledging that what we do today has many similarities, and as many differences.

Neurath, in particular, was deeply interested in contributing to the creation of a better, more unified world (“Words Divide, Pictures Unite”) and had specific notions regarding how that might best be accomplished.

Perhaps due to the orientations of its founders, Isotype Institute work tended to be strong on making sense of complex, data-driven content, while the participatory change-making process (cocreation process) component that we know today to be so important was essentially missing. Today we are more aware that making sense of the data is not in itself going to change the world. Hands-on participatory cocreation leadership is needed in orchestration with visualization.

Regardless of its imperfections, Isotype remains an important historical inspiration for many practicing SenseMakers, including the UnderstandingLab team at Humantific.

Stay tuned for more inspiring, early SenseMaking examples from the Humantific Collection.

Image Source: Central Bureau Voor de Statistiek 1944-1946: Statistisch Zakboek by Uitgeversmaatschappij W. De Haan N.V. Utrecht. 1947. Diagrams designed by the Isotype Institute. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

More on Isotype Institute 

More on Otto Neurath

More on Gerd Antz

More on Maria Neurath

GK VanPatter: What is SenseMaking?

GK VanPatter: SenseMaking / The Karl Weick Question

CoCreation Missing No More: See: Markets for Giving Workshop

The OTHER Design Thinking