We might've done this before, but better.
February 21, 2009 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Mapping with Isotype: A collection of examples of Otto Neurath, Gerd Arntz, and Marie Reidemeister’s cartographic language, isotype. (Still influential today).
posted by Jeff_Larson (13 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Shoot this is fantastic: ISOTYPE INSTITUTE, shoulda been up there, my apologies.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 3:31 PM on February 21, 2009

Thanks for this, Jeff. Edward Tufte has also written and lectured extensively on "visualizing quantitative information" (his phrase, not mine). When it's done well, as in isotype, there's a kind of elegance and beauty to it that moves it beyond mapping to art.
posted by angiep at 4:01 PM on February 21, 2009

This is my favorite (via lots of linkage)
posted by puckish at 4:27 PM on February 21, 2009

Neurath as in Neurath's boat? This is a pictographic language developed in the spirit of positivism? Awesome, I didn't know about this! Thanks!
posted by painquale at 4:39 PM on February 21, 2009

This pdf gives a nice explication of the theory underlying Isotype. I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed. Members of the Vienna Circle were all about supplanting natural languages with more perfect artificial languages (Carnap was a big Esperanto proponent), but while I can see that Neurath had some (flawed) theory about how this makes vocabulary more perfect, there's no sign of what the grammar is supposed to look like. Neurath promises a grammar of pictures in these writings, but I don't see anything approaching a formal way to compose new pictures from a stock of primitive ones. That transition from shoe to handmade shoe doesn't look like it's based on any purely logical principles. I'm surprised -- the positivists were all about logical structure. I was hoping for a thoroughly positivist picture language.

Neurath drew a mean elephant, though!
posted by painquale at 5:04 PM on February 21, 2009

excellent post!
posted by yonation at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2009

an ethnography of face-hugger victims?
posted by geos at 7:22 PM on February 21, 2009

While the isotype symbols might not be universally communicable, they are evocative in a way that would make them easy to teach and learn. And it would be useful to have a set of symbols, similar in design to isotype, recognized by a large segment of the world's population, for use on warning signs and the like.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:24 PM on February 21, 2009

Previously: the Gerd Arntz Archive.
posted by jouke at 7:56 PM on February 21, 2009

Here's a more modern attempt to do the same thing, inspired by Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.
posted by ver at 11:26 PM on February 21, 2009

Japanese map symbols
posted by Rhomboid at 12:41 AM on February 22, 2009

Thanks, jouke I hadn't seen that previous post (and I searched for "isotype" even)!
posted by Jeff_Larson at 10:01 AM on February 22, 2009

Excellent stuff, many thanks Jeff!
posted by carter at 8:34 PM on February 22, 2009

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