(re)Considering Bertin in the age of big data and visual analytics

Alan M. MacEachren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper highlights a selection of core ideas articulated by Bertin and leveraged by many researchers over time, with particular attention to how the ideas relate to developments in cartography, big data, and visual analytics. A primary contribution is a bibliometric analysis of the impact of Bertin’s Semiology of Graphics at its 50th anniversary. A briefer bibliometric assessment of Graphics and Graphic Information Processing impacts is also provided. The bibliometric analysis includes exploration of citations to Semiology of Graphics over the entire time span (in both English and French editions) as well as more focused analysis by topic and outlet since the advent of visual analytics as a research domain. Then, very recent research related to cartography, visual analytics, and big data is examined in detail to determine if and how Bertin’s ideas continue to be leveraged and extended for current data representation and analysis challenges. After outlining some limitations of the bibliometric analysis, discussion reflects on the current relevance of Bertin’s ideas, potential applications in visual analytics, and the need for a complement to Sémiologie Graphique focused on interactive visual interfaces to an increasingly diverse array of display forms. The paper concludes with thoughts on next steps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-118
Number of pages18
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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