Long before the term “data visualization” was coined, people used diagrams to organize and show relationships between information. One popular means of visualization, the tree diagram, has been around since the ancient Mesopotamian era. Manuel Lima’s The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge traces the history of tree diagrams, from those earliest examples through medieval genealogies and contemporary computer storage visualizations. Lima’s hundreds of examples illustrate the versatility the tree diagram and point to a near-universal human proclivity for representing hierarchies in this way.
Lima, a New York-based designer and teacher, is best known for his 2011 work Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information.