Strategic Temporality: Information Types and Their Rhetorical Usage in Digital Election Visualizations
Ideally, the prevalence of political data/information visualizations on social media would enrich political discourse with quality information. However, when examining the rhetorical role of information in visualizations, one must first typify information. A review of existing data/information typologies finds them incomprehensive; they omit visual and data-less information and disregard the temporal liminality of election periods. I thus rely on qualitative content analysis of 252 visualizations from the 2016 U.S. election to define the attributes of contemporary political information and explore its role in visualization rhetoric. I amend and amalgamate existing literature to create a typology of political information, which then I use to categorize the sample into two rhetorical modes (Unveiling hidden past/present realities, and Imagining possible futures) to create a second typology of visualized information-rhetoric. Overall, my findings reveal that candidates use temporality strategically to persuade while appearing to inform, as the facts of the election future are still pending.