How A Civil War Soldier Invented The American Infographic

1671605-inline-inline-1-1872-population-densityFrancis Amasa Walker was a highly decorated Union soldier and became the superintendent of the Census in 1870 at the age of 29. His experiments with data mapping led to the modern practice of infographics and data visualizations.

This position gave him the chance to think of the census not just as a tool of enumeration and political apportionment (its original purpose), but as an instrument of research and development. Think of Walker as an early advocate of data mining for the nation. To properly exploit the census, however, he had to make sense of the data, and this led him to experiment with maps and infographics.

In 1872, he issued the first of several groundbreaking attempts to map the American population through the census. But instead of using preexisting units–such as county or state divisions–he took the more labor-intensive step of mapping the population according to its actual contours. By doing this, he moved closer to seeing the population as it existed in space, irrespective of political boundaries.

Civil War history’s affect on modern internet culture = Total Sly Oyster linkbait.

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