Hierarchical vs Textural Compare & Contrast

The Design for Information text provides many case studies, which are listed in the Index. While making sure to select two from different chapters, compare and contrast your choices. How could these types of information design be used within your major and/or fields of interest? If your choices of case studies list websites, be sure to visit them, investigate the sites, and provide links to them in your writing.


I had one of those moments of realization while doing my research for my 21st Century Careers class essay and am finding myself changing my path slightly.  I came into this class thinking I’d like to do Web Design with a side of writing.  While that has changed I’m leaning more towards pursuing writing, enhancing my bookkeeping skills with accounting and just Book Design.  I have a feeling at the end of the day I’ll be taking more classes that deal with A/R or A/P side of things.  So, why bring this up?  Simply because one of the questions asks how could these types of information design be used within your major and/or fields of interest?  I had to think of which two to compare and how they would be used for me and my indecisive mind.  However, considering the essay I am writing about this I have a strong feeling I am going in the right direction minus the Design side of things.  I have battled with this since starting.


Isabel Meirelles text Design for Information, an introduction to histories, theories, and best practices behind effective information visualizations chapters go in depth with the core of what truly makes up design information.

Chapter 1 Hierarchical Structures—Trees

Chapter 2 Relational Structures—Networks

Chapter 3 Temporal Structures—Timelines and Flows

Chapter 4 Spatial Structures—Maps

Chapter 5 Spatio-Temporal Structures—Changes across time and space

Chapter 6 Textual Structures—Text or writing

(A word cloud of the words above):

wordle 8

So, in saying this I leaned heavily towards Chapter 1 Hierarchical Structures: Trees and not surprisingly I was enamored by Chapter 6 Textual Structures especially the case study on www.wordle.net using words and creating word clouds. This site takes common words and builds a word cloud that many of us have seen floating around the internet. For example, I took the Compare and Contrast question and built a word cloud on wordle.net.

wordle 14

However, before I get caught up in my compare and contrast I will step back and go over Isabel Meirelles text.  All of the chapters give us a great deal of information in regards to Design for Information.  Looking around us, we see Infographics all around whether it is a weather person giving us the weather or signs signaling the direction we need to go.  It is all around us.  I think the earliest form of Infographics is hieroglyphics 30,000 B.C.  Regardless Information Design has always been there in a visual and interactive sense.  As I was reading, I found it interesting that in spite of the pictures and words I still tend to be more Kinesthetic—People learn thoroughly through experience (by doing) mixed with some visual, little auditory, and a bit of read/write.  However, I will go more in depth with this on my blog. (Smiciklas pg. 8 and 11)

Hierarchical Structures/Trees and Textual Structures have a common theme: words amidst a drawing.  I can get behind this.  I think as early as my elementary school days and going to the Natural Museum of History is one of the best visuals of Hierarchical Structures AND Textural Structures out there.  In fact, I’d go as far as saying this museum can most likely cover all of Isabel Meirelles’s chapters. I bring the museum up as a point because of the timeline which is a part of Chapter 3 Temporal Structures, but can also be a part of Hierarchical Structures or Trees.  Simply put Hierarchical Structures are defined as a structure of data having several levels arranged in a treelike structure.  A treelike structure of information that can be related to people, animals, food pyramids, things, or data.

An example:


Or this simple one for the evolution of storytelling:


Oxford English Dictionary (pg. 25) Hierarchy: A body of persons or things ranked in grade, orders, or classes, one above the another; spec. in Natural Sciences and Logic, a system or series of terms of successive rank (as classes, orders, genera, species, etc.) used in classification.  Regardless, the information the result is still the same.  I can build a tree of my family, my history, even my classes or job skills.  It’s all based on information that is compiled by order, rank, class, or grade.

As for Textural Structures, I have to say it’s all about the words—text or written.  Most text documents such as books, news articles, tweets, and poems are unstructured data, in which they do not have predefined data models.  (pg. 189) Interestingly, enough I tried the case study Word Tree and even Phrase Net www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/page/Word_Tree.html and wasn’t able to locate the page.  However, this was like wordle.net in that you can create word clouds or structures with your data. Visualization of texts can be divided roughly into two groups.  One group uses language, per se, as the atomic visual element in displaying linguistic data.  The other uses external forms of data structures to visualize textual data, such as when we employ geographical or statistical methods to depict patterns in texts. (pg. 189) I think a lot of this can be construed with all the chapter topics.  They are all similar and yet different in some aspects.  I personally, feel that with both Hierarchical and Textual that these would be fundamental for me in either field I choose.  Whether it is a writer, book designer, bookkeeper, or business administration specifically human resources I think I can apply either of these to any situation within that field.  It could be an excel sheet of data, or writing a letter, it will apply.  I actually worried about this assignment as I wasn’t into the reading as much as I would have been.  The sites helped!  However, these two I did connect more with.  I’m a little surprised I wasn’t more into the Geography because I do enjoy maps and weather related models.  I would have found plenty of infographic models including this.  Interesting module.



Meirelles, Isabel. Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations. Rockport publishers, 2013. (pages 25 &189)

Smiciklas, Mark. “The Power of Infographics.” <i>Google Books</i>. QUE, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015. &lt;https://books.google.com/books?id=-rr84ltttj8C&amp;lpg=PP1&amp;ots=cNWJlk5jP8&amp;dq=infographics&amp;lr&amp;pg=PA3#v=onepage&amp;q=infographics&amp;f=true&gt;.


evolution tree:
Age of Man:




Posted on November 23, 2015, in ESC, School and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great blog, MMO! Incorporating the chapters into Wordle was a very inventive way to illustrate an example. Strangely enough, I have found Wordle to be quite handy in my writing which I had put that on the back burner thinking that I would travel the path of working for a non-profit in some capacity, but now I find myself drawn back to writing again…sigh. There is a nice flow to your text and illustrations; i particularly like the evolution of storytelling…simple, yet informative and the evolution of man, which despite it’s age is really quite advanced for it’s time. Well done, MMO!

    Liked by 1 person

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