Visual displays of quantitative data are the norm in today’s data-rich environment. But where do these visible numbers have their origins and how have they impacted societies and areas of knowledge?
Charles Kostelnick, professor of English, helps address the historical development of statistical graphics through a recently published book, Visible Numbers: Essays in the History of Statistical Graphics. Kostelnick served as co-editor for the collection, alongside Miles A. Kimball, and also contributed two chapters.
The book brings together a diverse group of scholars to tell the story of making data visible within fully contextualized historical scholarship. Essays examine how visual data methods arose from eighteenth- and nineteenth century innovations and graphic innovators such as Florence Nightingale and her statistical tables for medical care. The collection examines the increased specialization and public accessibility of twentieth-century data and the twenty-first century explosion of interactive digital data design that has placed vast amounts of data at our fingertips. In addition to co-editing, Kostelnick co-authored the introduction and wrote the chapter titled “Mosaics, Culture, and Rhetorical Resiliency: The Convoluted Geneaology of a Data Display Genre.”
Kostelnick also recently co-authored a book chapter for Science and the Internet: Communicating Knowledge in a Digital Age. Kostelnick and his son, John Kostelnick, associate professor of geography at Illinois State University, wrote the chapter titled “Online Visualizations of Natural Disasters and Hazards: The Rhetorical Dynamics of Charting Risk.” The book features work from the leading scholars of the rhetoric of science and technology and examines how the digital revolution is reshaping the communication practices of scientists and scientific argumentation.