I enjoy reading and studying new visual ways of displaying genealogical information, analysis and hypotheses. There are a few methods out there that are still applicable, but most have an expiration date, especially if they are connected to obsolete genealogical databases. Visual aids assist the reader when words fail or when words cannot do justice to what a well executed graph or table can do. I still draw my own land plats, neighborhood studies and such by hand because I have yet to find a computer program that fills that void or matches what is in my head. When I was hitting a wall with visualizing kinship connections, Paul Graham recommended the works of Edward R. Tufte. Within minutes of reading Envisioning Information by Tufte, I was fascinated and fixated on the examples, specifically on the page 31 example for the United States v. Gotti, et al., 1987 which shows the interconnected criminal activities of informants. I kept wondering how many record groups could be searched, how many timelines, how many repositories, how many associates....all the implications and ripple effects one table would have on research and analysis.
When I hit a stopping point in my own family research, I often look into the famous or infamous so that I can learn new regions, time periods and record groups. The Gotti associates example in Tufte's book reminded me of the book The Jews of Sing Sing by Ron Arons, in which he discusses the methodology of researching criminals. Both are creative ways of approaching and chasing down a genealogical problem or question. And the perfect tunes for chasing down ancestors and spacing out on graphs is RJD2's album The Colossus.
Ron Arons, The Jews of Sing Sing: Gotham, Gangsters and Gonuvim
Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information
RJD2, The Colossus