Universal symbols have been around donkey's years but they are as useful as ever. From road signs to app icons, symbols prove their value everywhere; being worth many words and transcending many languages.
Around 1925, Otto Neurath, decided to create a standard for showing social, technological, biological and historical connections in pictorial form. This standard became known as Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education). Cool eh. You can see how visual language has been carried into our everyday lives today just by looking at some of the original examples. Recognise the 'settings' icon in the pic below.
There's an Isotype exhibition at the V&A right now till the 13th March; well worth a peak given Otto's foundation for modern symbols. “Visual education” was always the prime motive behind Isotype and that too is no more relevant today in our globally connected community. As the proliferation of data visualization continues it's handy and a time-saver to know how others have already done it.
Funny; the employment chart between gender, I posted about a week ago was done way back in 1940 in the Isotype style: