Like many people with a yen for systematizing, I like diagrams. When I think a problem out I doodle and draw lines to boxes, circle words, do double underscores and the like. When I assemble something from, well, you know where, I look at the pictures and almost never read the instructions.
So I’m mightily impressed when someone can represent a complex situation with a clear picture. My hero in this regard is Edward Tufte, whose three last books — 1983: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (pictures of numbers). ISBN 096139210X; 1990: Envisioning Information (pictures of nouns). ISBN 0961392118; 1997: Visual Explanations (pictures of verbs). ISBN 0961392126 — are wonderful studies of visual representation of information. (His fourth book, Beautiful Evidence, is coming out soon.)
But for a delightful mosaic of nearly 300 portrayals of various kinds of information, visualcomplexity.com is the place to go. Here you’ll find links to all manner of attempts to grasp data in a gestalt, which, if nothing else, is a refreshing change from the more linear lapping up of information from text.