Infographics Meeting

I did a presentation on Thursday to a monthly meeting of the Society for News Design in Berlin, and there is a short note on it here by Dagmar Gehl, a PhD candidate at the University of Trier who has been completing a thesis on how adequately people understand "multimodal print clusters" (that is, graphics and text).
The questions fom the listeners as I went along were helpful in showing what audiences find surprising about this material.
One immediate question was: why there were so few daughters in the "family tree of Christ"? The answer: the Great Stemma author, working circa 420 A.D., is faithfully reproducing material that was nearly 1,000 years old in his own time. So the heavily male bias merely reflects the bias of the material he was given. The 540 names in the Great Stemma are certainly a selection from two or three times as many biblical names, but gender is not a factor in the selection.
Other questions focussed on why people wanted to construct genealogies in the first place, or how "true" they are. That is such a wide question that I usually steer away from discussing it, since I would like my audiences to focus more on the "how" of producing a flow chart, or organization chart, or dendrogram, or family tree, and why the visualization can be more useful as a communication medium than a text. But of course it can be legitimately discussed, and I do intend to broach the wider issue in the book I am writing about the research.

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