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October 4, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Are you the type of person who, when flipping through a book or scanning a website, immediately searches for the diagrams or charts because you'd rather absorb the information visually than have to read a bunch of text? If so, then you are probably a visual learner and you may find Useful Charts helpful. The goal is to present useful information in the form of study charts so that students, teachers or simply those interested in increasing their general knowledge can absorb the information quickly and visually.
posted by netbros (9 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I was excited, but on looking at a few of the biology charts I'm kind of nonplussed. I would like these a lot better if they came with citations. I also don't know how great all of these are in terms of the information they do provide or the way they depict it.

The Classification of Living Things chart, for instance, uses sort of awkward and non-standard wording for groups (e.g. "Mammalian Class" vs. "Class: Mammalia") and also I don't like its nested boxes approach nearly as much as the usual branching tree diagram. It's a valid way to depict taxonomy and I use that metaphor myself sometimes, but the way it's laid out doesn't really provide (to me anyway) an intuitive sense of the relative relatedness of different taxa or the hierarchical nature of taxonomic classification.

It also leaves off a *lot* of groups without making any mention that it is doing so. There are more orders of insects than it depicts, there are even more phylums of animals than it shows, and more divisions of plants. It's OK to leave things off, but I feel like there should be some indication that that is happening.

The charts in general use words a lot when pictures would do the job better (like in the Human Evolution Timeline chart) which sort of defeats the purpose of using a visual medium to depict the information if you ask me. (Not that I really buy the whole visual/kinesthetic/auditory learning trichotomy in the first place; I feel like most people learn best when given a mixture of methods and that some methods lend themselves better to some subjects than others.) They look very samey most of the time, regardless of the nature of information that they are trying to depict, which I don't think is really in the service of presenting that information as clearly as possible. Maybe some of the charts in fields I am less familiar with are better, but at least as far as biology I'm not super impressed with what I've seen so far.
posted by Scientist at 3:30 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Criticisms acknowledged, Scientist, but I still like the theme of the page. This is kind of like one of those books of miscellany you might stash in the bathroom. Not for deep thought, but enjoyable.

You may find the scientific charts here more academically rigorous.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:35 PM on October 4, 2012

Looking at the Verb Tenses Timelines chart is like trying to follow the plot of Primer.
posted by mediocre at 3:45 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

But, but there are charts on evolution and none on creationism--I suppose since evolution is only a theory that is probably why they were able to put it on a chart rather than a real book. BTW--I really liked this link--I am a a big fan of easily accessible and readable information--Thanks
posted by rmhsinc at 5:54 PM on October 4, 2012

I hear what your saying, Scientist, but I'm tickled that they have these out there for teachers and parents. Teachers especially are so screwed when it comes to having stuff to work with in the classroom. Our ninth grade science classroom was barren until we put up stuff the kid's had worked on. (Which isn't a bad way to learn, but dang those brown walls are ugly uncovered!)
posted by BlueHorse at 6:16 PM on October 4, 2012


Jimi Hendrix's signature song was Purple Sky.
posted by rodii at 7:24 PM on October 4, 2012

Stop! Stop! Over reliance on visual imagery is how the Star Wars universe became illiterate! and enslaved!
posted by EnterTheStory at 2:54 AM on October 5, 2012

After looking at them I agree with OP: these are mostly tables of text, not really graphical. Making a good chart is very, very hard. I'm too lazy to link to the good ones, but you know them when you see them. Still, as illustrated tables these are OK, and as summaries suitable for sticking on a wall they're great.

Some of the summaries have gaping holes (e.g. the theism chart misses pantheism, which would completely change the "us versus them" sameness of the chart) but that is equally true of most written sources.
posted by EnterTheStory at 3:44 AM on October 5, 2012

Failed my quick and dirty credibility test when I found Mariah Carey at #15 on the chart of "Top Musical Artists of All Time" (assuming either time began after 1950 or there were no musical artist before 1950.)

I wouldn't trust them to present the ABCs in alphabetical order.
posted by she's not there at 8:59 AM on October 5, 2012

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