Week 22 – Lev Manovich’s “5 Minute Guide: Graphic Design Principles for Information Visualisation” peppered with Aaeron Siegel’s “Making Visible the Invisible” (2012)

Lev Manovich’s principles are formed around 7 algorithms which I shall list and explain in further detail.

1 – Only use a few options for each visual attribute – keep it simple and clear and don’t go too big as it will dillute the overall impact of the data. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 1 – Mark Lombardi – Global Theme Narrative Structure (Lombardi, 1999)

Mark Lombardi through his lifestyle and attention for detail and collecting data, was able to produce data of his own that perhaps even a computer would struggle to reproduce, he was a fan of political scandals and conspiracy, he would network and keep records of his conversations on note cards, then later took these real connections discovered and organised in his own collated index to create these charts connecting and networking people. These beautiful landscapes would have a flow and tell their own stories, he would actually create them simply with pencil and paper, simple but impactful.

2 – Connect attributes with semantics – what do they represent? indicate differences and don’t introduce too much to simple make it look better. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 2 – Harry Beck – London Tube Map (Beck, 1933)

Harry Beck created the original London Tube Map in 1933, what’s innovative about this design is that it ignores factual georgraphic information by simplifying the London layout into the lines by colour and the connecting stations by relative placement from each other, the result is the tube map, that still exists in an updated form and inspired all manner of maps across the world. It was simple, not overloaded with information and easy to process and understand.

3 – Use colour palettes/generators – choose one and stick to it. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 3 – Nicholas Feltron – Annual Report 2012 (Feltron, 2012)

Nicholas Feltron rose to notoriety online by releasing his annual report, not related to business, it was a personal project to turn real data about his own life, to then report and publish annually online through his website, covering all manner of mundane and acquired data in his real life actions and interactions, my example from 2012 shows a very simple, clean and styled colour palette which captures your attention but does not distract from the data being presented.

4 – Only use one typeface – the only variable will be the font size. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 4 – Bright Point Inc – Federal Budget (Brightpoint. 2013)

Bright Point Inc are a company that create data and publish it to order for clients, the project above is part of a larger project working with the budget data, but it’s an example of clear and direct data and uses the single font algorithm.

5 – Grid – Use a grid for multiple streams of data rather than single or when adding text to a visualisation. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 5 – William Playfair – Exports and Imports to and from Denmark & Norway (Playfair, 1786)

To show an example of the use of a grid I’m going back to the very starting point for data visualisation, this organised and clear work by Playfair dates back to 1786 and his body of work covers early examples of the use of line graph, bar chart, waveform and pie chart in his data presentation.

6 – Take away anything non essential – simplify by taking away until there is nothing left to take out. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 6 – Eric Fischer – Race and Ethnicity 2010, US Census mapped (Fischer, 2010)

Eric Fischer explains everything you need to know in just the title, by mapping ethnicity by colour over the real geographic map of New York City, by looking at the data you can work out the spread of the community very clearly, it’s a colourful and strong piece of visual data.

7 – Find a visualisation template – apply it to your own work. (Manovich, 2012)


Figure 7 – Alan Foale and Mark Ovendon – World Metro Map (Foale and Ovendon, 2005)

Rather than to apply this idea to something I created which would be fictional just for this blog, I decided to look at an example of the previously seen Harry Beck London Underground map used as a template for a different piece of visual data, my example shown above shows the same style applied for a world metro map adapted by Foale and Ovendon, the simple layout and use of colour is iconic and communicates well even in this adapted piece of visual data.


Beck, H. (1933). Harry Beck’s Tube map. [online] Transport for London. Available at: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/art-and-design/harry-becks-tube-map [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Brightpoint. (2013). BrightPoint Consulting – HTML5 Data Visualization. [online] Available at: http://www.brightpointinc.com [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Feltron, N. (2012). The 2012 Feltron Annual Report has been Released – information aesthetics. [online] Infosthetics.com. Available at: http://infosthetics.com/archives/2013/03/the_2012_feltron_annual_report_is_released.html [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Fischer, E. (2010). Race and ethnicity 2010, US census mappedmaptd. [online] Maptd.com. Available at: http://maptd.com/race-and-ethnicity-according-to-the-2010-us-census/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Foale, A. and Ovendon, M. (2005). 17 London Underground Maps You Never Knew You Needed. [online] BuzzFeed. Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/london-underground-maps-you-never-knew-you-needed?utm_term=.kbN41AabL#.lqrjyeOJ9 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Lombardi, M. (1999). Mark Lombardi. [online] The Future Mapping Company. Available at: https://futuremaps.com/blog/mark-lombardi [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Manovich, L. (2012). 5 Minute Guide: Graphic Design Principles for Information Visualization. [online] Google Docs. Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CVbRgxAby5AdS6ERCmAde69v7_gXSWoK-YcJZzs-KKY/edit?pli=1 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Playfair, W. (1786). Janne Pyykkö’s BI Blog. [online] Jpbi.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: http://jpbi.blogspot.co.uk/2007_08_01_archive.html [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Siegel, A. (2012). AARON SIEGEL – LECTURE. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/52832102 [Accessed 2 May 2017].


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