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Anatomy of System Notations: A comprehensive inventory of graphical devices

Format: Maps & Exhibits, Mapping Mondays, RSD12, RSD12 Maps & Exhibits, Topic: Mapping & Modelling

Peter Stoyko

System graphical notations are standardised shorthands for diagramming systems. Most take the form of node-and-link diagrams (hypergraphs), stacks, and spatial-map encodings. These graphical notations remain in widespread use but have not evolved significantly over the last thirty years. That plateauing is conspicuous given the many advancements in other forms of system visualisation and systems thinking in general. The Pattern Atlas of System Vulnerabilities was presented at RSD11. That work included a poster itemising 30 forms of problematic system entanglement. The new exhibit presents subsequent work that attempts to visually disentangle complex interactions within and between systems. A poster itemises and illustrates the various graphical devices used in system graphical notations. In a sense, this would be an anatomy chart of system notations in all their diversity. The poster identifies which forms work better, which are dysfunctional, and which are innovations that have been under-used (or otherwise neglected). Those insights provide a stepping stone to the creation of updated notations, ideally, ones better suited to our era in which multi-media maps are overtaking static ones. Those insights would also suggest good practices for those who integrate system notations into other forms of graphics, such as infographics, gigamaps, and synthesis maps.

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Citation Data

Author(s): Peter Stoyko
Year: 2023
Title: Anatomy of System Notations: A comprehensive inventory of graphical devices
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: ONLINE
Symposium Dates: February 26–May 6, 2024
First published: 30 December 2023
Last update: February 01, 2024
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404