1. Envisioning Information

  1. Daniel Dorling

Published Online: 5 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118353929.ch1

The Visualization of Spatial Social Structure

The Visualization of Spatial Social Structure

How to Cite

Dorling, D. (2012) Envisioning Information, in The Visualization of Spatial Social Structure, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118353929.ch1

Author Information

  1. Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 JUL 2012
  2. Published Print: 3 AUG 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119962939

Online ISBN: 9781118353929



  • animation;
  • colour;
  • envisioning information;
  • generalization;
  • pictures;
  • three-dimensional form;
  • visual thinking


This chapter begins with a discussion on visual thinking. Our first permanent communications were cave paintings and our first textual scripts were made of pictures. Today the liquid-crystal display screen is the modern cave wall. The nineteenth century saw the growth of an aversion, in science, to pictures. Computer graphics in the 1960s changed the picture. Swirling images were produced from simple formulae. Graphics have come in and out of favour in cycles through time. Visualization is the transformation of numbers into pictures in order to see what a mass of figures cannot tell us, let alone could not inform others about. The careful use of colour can convey more of the depth of spatial organisation. The most powerful ability of the eye–brain working in combination is generalization. Animation can be used for much more than understanding three-dimensional form.