Visualization constraints

February 12, 2015


Design  / 

In a discussion of context and visualization, Jen Christiansen pulls out a good snippet from Jacob Bronowski’s The Observer (1952) on design constraints.

The object to be made is held in a triangle of forces. One of these is given by the tools and the processes which go to make it. The second is given by the materials from which it is to be made. And the third is given by the use to which the thing is to be put. If the designer has any freedom, it is within this triangle of forces or constraints.

With visualization, oftentimes people assume a fixed triangle, and they especially like to keep the line of use in one place. Quantitative analysis. Quantitative insights.

In practice, across the spectrum of visualization, the design of data things requires flexibility. Size your triangle accordingly.