Does an image say more than a thousand words? Sciences are full of images, metaphors, and symbols, which are not only results and communication tools but indispensable elements in research processes. Advances in digitalisation and new modes of simulation are transforming the capacities of scientific image production and usage. This lecture deals with a specific genre of scientific imagery: the network diagram. A fragmented review of the historical development of the representation of nodes and edges is followed by an investigation of the use of diagrams in the research practice of social sciences, which leads last but not least to a discussion of scientific criticism and the alleged iconoclastic tendencies towards the use of images.
Katja Mayer studied physics, sociology, and philosophy with a focus on science studies at the University of Vienna. Many years of work together with the Institute for New Culture Technologies / Public Netbase, Vienna; exhibition concept and design on topics such as robotics, virtual worlds, and surveillance technologies; communication and information work on the use of media and technological critique. Guest lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna. Currently, Mayer is completing her dissertation about visualisations of social networks.