image newman"Data Visualization for Design Thinking - Applied Mappinghelps you make better maps. Treating maps as applied research, you’ll be able to understand how to map sites, places, ideas, and projects, revealing the complex relationships between what you represent, your thinking, the technology you use, the culture you belong to, and your aesthetic practices.











  

 

Data Visualization for Design Thinking
Applied Mapping

by

Winifred E. Newman

 

Routledge

2017 | 284 pages | 241 Color Illus. ISBN: 9781138958357

Reviewed by

Jeff Thurston

 


"Data Visualization for Design Thinking - Applied Mapping"  helps you make better maps. Treating maps as applied research, you’ll be able to understand how to map sites, places, ideas, and projects, revealing the complex relationships between what you represent, your thinking, the technology you use, the culture you belong to, and your aesthetic practices."

Without doubt maps are designed, created and used with a view to communicating information. There are wide variations in the kinds of maps that may be produced. "The objective of this book is to theorize the practice of mapmaking for designers by providing designers with the structure, grammar and syntax for maps and mapmaking procedures."

The author opens with an overview and discussion about what maps are and the broader context of mapping - the two being different. Indeed, what we have traditionally considered to be a map is giving way to new forms of representation. For example, designs by architects and builders might be placed into the realm of mapping, as could portraits or any design that conveys design and location and place. Newman describes designers as mapmakers and drives home the point that a strong connection exists between map and design. 

"Maps as Objects of Explanations" is explored in the opening chapter. Readers quickly learn about the ontology of mapping with descriptions on topics including semiotics, and communication. Artifacts and processes used in mapping are explained and the relationship between what we are experiencing and how we represent it through mapping is outlined. What seems straight forward is not readily, or easily translated by map makers - sometimes. Different designs can be used to convey these perceptions and representations. 

It should come as no surprise that mathematics plays such an importent role in mapping, given that datums and coordinate systems form the foundations of many maps as they divide the earth in grids and location networks that enable and support representations accurately - or shall we say representations appropriately. Afterall, what role does imagination, sensory experience and intuition play in mapping? Newman continually nudges us to understand visual representations and mapping that draw upon a wide range of experience and perceptive experiences, and to appreciate each of these modes of translation into design awareness at a new level or form. 

Exceptional use of maps, graphics and visual elements are used in this text to support the discussion and help readers to understand meaning in the topics expressed. These graphics support this book very well with their clarity and uniqueness. At times there are simple 2D maps, while other examples illustrate the 3D and 4D nature of mapping perceptions in time and space. Each of these interpretations leads to the process of decision making, actions and consideration of options on many subjects connected to location. As readers work through book and learn, they will find that the connection of maps to design becomes more visible and easily understood. And this is why this book is very powerful and excellent with a focus on its intended purpose of data visualization connecting with design thinking. 

No book about maps would be complete without a discussion on the topics of scale and projections. This book is no exception and these topics are described in detail. And it is on these topics that we see a present day interest in taking data of all types - so called Big Data - and moving these large volumes of data into a spatial context. This is giving rise to maps with data in unique forms today that are noted for their sometimes traditional, sometimes strange and attractive ways of representing information. Whatever the case, Newman surely causes us to re-think what we knew about mapping and what we know about data in design. The final chapter includes case studies. 

In summary, "Data Visualization for Design Thinking - Applied Mapping" is one of the best books to read in 2017. It contains all of the information that the title suggests. Author Winifred E. Newman not only explores and describes maps, mapping and design but also connects them together in one of the most logical and easy to understand text available today. Through a comprehensive explanation of maps and mapping, this book takes us on a path that leads toward learning about design space. The result is that we must re-think what mapping is, how representations work and question what we perceive to adequately see how it connects through design. 

The graphics in this book and their topics are exceptional, wonderous, colorful and keep readers engaged and thinking. This book is like no other mapping book that I have read, and for that reason I am sure it will be useful and intriguing to students, teachers and those involved in mapping, design and data visualization. Buy this book...