The sources of readings

January 19, 2010

in Resources

Readings for this class will come from 3 places:

  • The textbook (Visual Thinking for Design). We’ll read the whole book over the course of the semester, so academic fair use doesn’t apply. You should either buy a copy or plan to spend a lot of time in Wendt library with the version on reserve.
  • The web. Most of the papers we will read can be found on the web. Occasionally, the only link I will find will be to a digital library (which will require you to either be on campus to access it, or use some proxy server). We also have access to some useful books online via Wendt library.
  • The protected web reader. There are some things that I have electronic copies of, that I cannot make available to the general public. For example, if I scan 1 chapter of a book, I can make it available to a class under fair-use guidelines. (but only 1 chapter, and only to my class). I’ve put these readings in  a password protected directory: This is very loose protection, just trying to keep search robots out. The user account is “vis10” and the password is the room that class meets in (4 digits and 2 lower case letters for the building/department).

Looking at classes at other universities is a great way to get a sense of the field. I have definitely spent a lot of time looking at other places to get ideas for this class. Sadly, we can’t make use of all of the good ideas.

  • Maneesh Agarwala’s CS294 class at UC Berkeley. This is one of my main inspirations.
  • Hanspeter Pfister’s CS171 class at Harvard. Was a primary inspiration for doing this class.
  • Colin Ware teaches a class a the University of New Hampshire. He’s the author of the best textbooks, so his class was certainly one to look at. 
  • Victoria Interante had an interesting class at Minnesota, but the web page seems to have gone away.
  • David Ebert at Purdue teaches a class that’s a little more broad than some of the others (including more traditional “scientific” visualization).
  • Tamara Munzer’s class at University of Brittish Columbia
  • Hanrahan
  • Marti Hearst’s class at Berkeley.

The main readings for this class will be provided (they will come from papers, or book chapters that I can provide). However, I was going to use so much of Colin Ware’s book, that it defies academic fair use, so itis a required textbook.If you don’t want to buy it, it will be on reserve at Wendt library.

Required Textbook:

Visual Thinking: for Design, by Colin Ware. Published by Morgan Kaufman, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0123708960. (amazon)

This is a fabulous book. We’ll use all of the chapters. The only downside is that it isn’t as comprehensive as his earlier book. But I picked this one since Information Visualization might be a little bit too much for some people.

There will be required readings from this book, but there will be alternates for those of you who buy Information Visualization instead.

Alternate Textbook:

Information Visualization, Second Edition: Perception for Design, by Colin Ware. Published by Morgan Kaufman, 2004. (amazon)

This was going to be my choice for the textbook, but I thought it might be a little much for most students. If you’re really into visualization, you probably want this book instead of Visual Thinking.

Another Useful Book

Visualizing Data. by Ben Fry. O’Reilly 2008.

This is less a book about visualization than it is about the process of doing visualizations and how to program in Processing. If you’re not a computer scientist, and you need to learn some simple programming to do some visualization, this book is a good place to start. Its more about working through the process of simple examples than giving you insights into visualization in general.

You don’t need to buy this book – UW has access to an online copy (here’s a link that accesses it through the proxy so it works off campus):

Recommended Reading

Tufte’s books are an essential guide to the design aspects of visualization. Its hard to justify them as textbooks. I have requested that they be put on reserve at Wendt.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition. By Edward Tufte. Graphics Press, 2001. (amazon)

Envisioning Information. By Edward Tufte. Graphics Press, 1990. (amazon)

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. By Edward Tufte. Graphics Press, 1997. (amazon)

Beautiful Evidence. By Edward Tufte. Graphics Press, 2006.  (amazon)

At the surface, Scott McCloud’s books seem to be about comics. But, if you dig deeper, you realize that he has a lot of amazingly insightful things to say about visualization in general.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. by Scott McCloud. Harper, 1994(amazon)

I don’t think people would take me seriously if I made this a textbook. But you’ll learn a ton by reading it. It will help you rethink what visual communication is about. His new book seems good too, but I am just reading it now.

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics. by Scott McCloud. Haper, 2006.