On Representations

Elijah Meeks has sparked off an interesting set of conversions. Ranging from the death of visualizations, to the state of affairs with higher-level visualization libraries, to the place we hold in the world to come.

I’m not sure if Elijah Meeks has deliberately positioned himself to be a straw man, but nevertheless I think the conversions arisen are interesting, and thus I hold my optimism.

We are part of a medium. As Bret Victor poetically puts it, we are in the business of creating media for unthinkable thoughts. And cause of that, there is still much to explore. I have always thought that procedural content and generative art and design are close cousins of visualization. The same skillset can also be extended to the current state of augmented reality. But most relevant of all, there are explorable explanations. And there is definitely maybe the possibility of stumbling upon a manner of representation that leads to unthinkable thoughts.

But we don’t work in isolation. I am a middle child. I like to play in harmony. And the more I operate in this field, the more I am convinced that we operate as part of a whole.

The measures matter. Or as a friend of mine puts it, the metaphysics of the measures matter, the implied backstory of the measure. We might or might not play a role in affecting that, but measures are the plot to the story that we convey through the visual language we employ. Alas, we are part of a medium.

We are cartographers of imaginary landscapes. We have the opportunity to create media for the unthinkable. The field we operate in has the capacity to allow folks to see things in a different light, to change mental models.

And hence, there is still so much more to do.