Check out the 14 min. video: Alan Blackwell's Introduction to Visual Representation , one of many free resources available at interaction design.org.
"One of the things we want to be thinking about is, when we put marks on the screen, where is the humanity that we can detect."
"When you're designing visual representations, you need to know about history of representation so you can tell your audience--give them the cues--of how they are to read the things they see on the surface."
"Symbols are about correspondences...we can use all of these things when we design visual representations for technology. Some are good and some are bad, it depends what the people who are gong to be seeing our displays understand."
"When we make a visual representation, it's pssible to abstract away all of those things and convey simply the essentials, and this means that visual representations can be a tool for conceptualization, for analysis, and for making plans about what we intend to do."