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Graphics Visualization and the Social Sciences óDavid Unwin

Traditionally, 'pictures' such as maps, diagrams, paintings and graphs have been used to communicate the results of an investigation and their use as a direct method of analysis has not been common. Pictures are a polysemic means of communication, do not compress data into 'laws' or 'law like statements', and are anyhow hard to draw. However, the current 'data explosion', coupled with the increased use of non-linear dynamic models and the potentials for graphical output afforded by modern computer systems, are beginning to change this view. Visualisation is increasingly being used as an analytic strategy, similar in spirit to that of Dr. John Snow's famous 1854 discovery by mapping of the link between cholera and infected water supplies. Visualisation software developed for use in the natural sciences is of only limited use in the social sciences whose data frequently are very different from those assumed by these systems.

 

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