Many faces of diagrams: from general properties to practial advantages and disadvantages


Research on diagrammatic representations has revealed that they, as opposed to sentence-based representations, have the following general properties: (1) Expressing a certain set of information results in the expression of consequential information (e.g., Barwise & Etchemendy 1990), (2) Certain sets of information cannot be expressed alone, without the (at least selective) expression of other, non-consequential information (e.g., Stenning & Oberlander 1995), (3) Certain inconsistent sets of information cannot be expressed (e.g., Barwise & Etchemendy 1994), (4) Information of multiple levels of information can be expressed simultaneously and relatedly (e.g., Pinker 1990, Cleveland 1994). There has been an attempt to explain the cause of these properties in a unified manner (e.g., Shimojima 2002). This presentation will focus more on their consequences, specifically, the resultant advantages and disadvantages in the actual uses of information graphics. Examples will be taken from newspaper, magazines, TV news shows, and other popular forms of information media.

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