Just ahead of the first decade of this website’s history clicking over, here’s a look back at where things started. Some of those postings were terrible, some of them were quite prescient or are even still popular.
This is partly why I created the interactive posting calendar. It makes it easy browse postings just by mousing over, especially those early ones (clicking opens them in a new tab).
The First Posting!
In my first posting ever, I immediately started bitching about the lack of theoretical foundations:
But in many ways, visualization is today mostly technical, empirical, and there is practically no theoretical foundation for what we are doing.
The writing in that posting is a bit tortured and it’s no wonder nobody read it at the time. But I still believe all the things I talk about there, so that’s not bad.
More Early Postings
Things happened quickly in those early days! I didn’t realize that within a few weeks, I had written a number of postings:
- iTunes (Music) Store Billion Downloads Visualization. The iTunes Store had just been renamed from iTunes Music Store (this was before the iPhone had even been announced!) and I was able to capture the data that was feeding a countdown counter on Apple’s website. Sadly, I created the visualization in Java, which most people no longer have (and I also broke something with the embedding). I might build a web version of this at some point. This was my second posting ever though, kind of mind-blowing.
- Opining or Murmuring: Infographics vs. Visualization. Infographics and their relationship to visualization has been a recurring theme here. This very early posting linked to a piece by Kaiser Fung. When you look at the comments there, I thought his observation was really interesting. My posting probably came after that. Who says comments are useless?
- Criticism was a topic from the very beginning. Among the first few postings I’m finding Visualization Criticism – A New Way of Thinking about Visualization and The Loneliness of the Visualization Critic (title inspired by this great short story I had read as a teenager).
- When Informative Art Isn’t. Yeah, I was never afraid to pick fights. I criticized two related papers about a particular kind of ambient display. Lars Erik Holmquist, one of the authors of those papers, responded and it turned into a good discussion (we also later wrote a paper together, where we used this as an example).
- Sets of Possible Occurrences. The first technique posting of sorts. SOPOs (as they’re affectionately called) are an interesting theoretical idea, but a complete failure as a visualization.
- The US ZIPScribble Map. Posted December 1, 2006, this became the first really popular posting on this site. So popular in fact, that fights broke out in the comments and I had to delete some comments to stop the nonsense. This is still the longest comment thread on this site, I believe. The ZIPScribble Map is now interactive, includes many more countries, and lives here.
The First Comment!
Want to guess who left the first comment on eagereyes? Well, I’ll tell you: it was Hadley Wickham! He argued with me in the comment section of this article about square pie charts that they’re really the same thing as treemaps. Some of the earlier postings have comments, but those actually came later.
I have a posting for later this week that will look at the time before October 1, 2006 – those days before, um, recorded history.