The narrative structure of Kerouac’s On The Road is examined in this hand-made diagram from designer & data visualizer extraordinaire Stefanie Posavec.
Posavec’s Writing Without Words project interprets Jack Kerouac’s classic novel, On the Road, through diagram. In this piece, Sentence Drawings, Posavec uses a simple sentence mapping algorithm to reveal threads of narrative structure and to reveal patterns in sentence length within the book. Writing Without Words is exemplary for many reasons, but it’s the first project that I show to my students for two very specific reasons:
First, it uses a book as data, proving that you don’t need to be scouring APIs or wrestling with obscure file formats to get started with data visualization. Have a bookshelf? Live near a library? You’re all set.
Second, Stefanie made this diagram by hand, in Illustrator, without a single line of code. I hear a lot of people say to me that they’d love to make data visualizations, if only they knew how to program. I always point them to this piece, along with work from Nicholas Felton and Giorgia Lupi, both stellar visualization practitioners who have produced beautiful work without knowing how to code.
If you’re a designer who has been thinking about getting started with data visualization, pin this one up on your wall as inspiration, and get started.