Thinking and Acting with Diagrams

Volume 14, Issue 2

In 1303 Wang Zhen published the agricultural treatise Nongshu 農書, in which he included in tabular form instructions for, amongst others, the best period for sowing different kinds of crop. These tables were accompanied by further textual explanations with the obvious goal of guiding the reader to agricultural improvements (Bray, this issue). In 1996, the Bank of England produced fan charts in its inflation report showing the range of uncertainty in its inflation forecasts. These charts were accompanied by an explanatory text intended to guide the reader in understanding the diagram (Boumans, this issue). When the famous ancient mathematical text Zuobi Suanjing 周髀算經 (The Gnomen of the Zhou) was re-edited for the Complete Library of the Four Treasures, the restructuring of textual elements added another layer of interpretation to a fundamental text explaining how to perform mathematical calculations (Chemla, this issue). Imperially commissioned in the early 1770s, this edition appeared around the same time Benjamin Franklin was jotting down dots into a tabular system to keep track of his moral improvements, a system he explained in his Autobiography first published, in French, in 1793 (Maas, this issue).

View Full article on Taylor & Francis Online
more articles