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Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization 1786-1900

Data visualization is not a recent innovation. Even in the eighteenth century, activists and economists, as well as educators and politicians, were fully aware of the power of visualization to produce new knowledge.

But who, more precisely, was wielding this power? On whose behalf? And for whose benefit? The answers to these questions are what this project explores.

By retelling the history of data visualization alongside the histories of colonialism and slavery, we show how questions of ethics and justice have always been present—and continue to offer lessons to viewers and designers of data visualizations today.

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