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Information [Hardcover]

David Mccandless
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Nov. 15 2009
A visual guide to the way the world really works Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded by information - from television, from newspapers, from the internet, we're steeped in it, maybe even lost in it. We need a new way to relate to it, to discover the beauty and the fun of information for information's sake. No dry facts, theories or statistics. Instead, Information is Beautiful contains visually stunning displays of information that blend the facts with their connections, their context and their relationships - making information meaningful, entertaining and beautiful. This is information like you have never seen it before - keeping text to a minimum and using unique visuals that offer a blueprint of modern life - a map of beautiful colour illustrations that are tactile to hold and easy to flick through but intriguing and engaging enough to study for hours.

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Product Description


'thought-provoking, lovingly-crafted and informative; a handsome book that anyone would be grateful to receive' Picked as one of the best science books of the year in Arts & Books, Independent on Sunday 'What David McCandless has done is genius... dry data is transformed into small pieces of pop art that engage so much you end up learning more, without realising it. The ideal encyclopaedia for the information age.' Red Handed

About the Author

David McCandless is an award-winning writer and journalist. His work has appeared in over 30 magazines in the UK and the US and all over the web. He currently works as creative consultant for Orange and the BBC and writes about the Internet, underground culture and 'anything interesting' for Wired and The Guardian.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty colours and the curse of tiny type Feb. 25 2010
Page 128 of this book is devoted to the different types of graphics used in diagrams, forty are named with a little graphic of each (pie chart, bar chart; word cloud etc and one called `Dunno what to call it' chart) and I thought it would have been useful to run this page at the front of the book so that readers could try and identify what type of graphic was used on each page.

The editorial is an interesting one and gets away from the Tufte format of reproducing existing material by creating all the graphics for this book and maybe this is one of its weaknesses. I found so many of these graphic pages just too unwieldy and confusing, sort of the opposite of what this type of material is supposed to do: visually present information with clarity and simplicity. Plenty of pages have data that has been crowbarred into something visual that really should have remained just as copy.

Shame about the missing headings on many pages. More importantly to me (and a real editorial weakness) is the large amount of unreadable type, either white out of a black page, light coloured panels or just too tiny. Heavy use of Batteries Not Included Bold Condensed and Prices Subject To Change Without Notice Roman do not encourage clarity. It means I just turn over the page to the next diagram.

There are some fascinating visual ideas here but because they were not created for anything other than this book they lack the creative rigor that would normally be required if they were to be used in print elsewhere.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please be aware Nov. 30 2010
By Atma Singh - Published on Amazon.com
Please be aware that this book is exactly the same as The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia. Do not buy both, or you'll end up returning one of the two, as I'm going to do now.
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Approach with skepticism... June 17 2011
By David Cain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm fortunate to have attended Edward Tufte's great lecture on the visual presentation of statistical information, and so I approach any chart as a skeptic.

First off, this IS the same book as The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia - you don't need to buy both.

The positive:

Elegantly designed, beautifully presented graphics, satisfies Tufte's first rule: "have a compelling story to tell with your data" (bad paraphrase, I'm sure). My book has NONE of the defects other reviewers describe (ink splats in EU version, no labels on some charts in US version).

The negative:

any reader who spends a little time with a ruler and a calculator analyzing the "Billion Dollar-o-gram" (p. 10) will wonder how many of the other charts in the book are fabrications. Seriously. $300 Billion isn't anything like 4.5 x $97 Billion, yet that's what the comparative areas in this chart suggest. What kills me is that the chart would've been just as interesting and MORE compelling if it was accurate. There's off-the-shelf treemap software that will generate such a diagram automatically AND accurately.

I had my questions about the validity of some of the charts my first time through, but other Amazon reviewers' questioning of their accuracy in The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia made me look for myself.

I have no way to check some of the other charts (which occasionally lapse into what Tufte calls "chart-junk") - as they're irregular figures, and difficult to compare by area. Suffice it to say that the accuracy problems with the billion-dollar-o-gram place the rest of the charts in the book under a cloud of suspicion as well.

When you present data, you're putting your own reputation on the line. You MUST present data accurately, if you're going to present your data as truth.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Translating Numbers Feb. 9 2011
By Helen Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
I like the title `Information is Beautiful'best because it says clearly what I love about this book. McCandless has transformed information in the form of number data into beautiful graphics. The information can become instantly more powerful by many orders. (I say can because not all the graphics are equally powerful).
There is a wonderful almost recursive aspect to this work- the world we perceive is shaped by `invisible' streams of stuff that can be converted to data and analysed. The abstractive power of numerical analysis allows us to discover lots of exciting new information about the world, but for so many people in the world, numbers and even graphs are a foreign language. Even for those of us who can `speak' numbers will not (cannot!) always put in the effort to work through every set of numbers we come across.
What McCandless has succeeded in doing is taking some of the analysis that has gone on (and one can quibble with that analysis behind some graphics, but that is not really the point) and translating it back into the way we like to perceive the world - visually - so that we instantly see the abstractive power of that analysis, most of it really engagingly set out in colors and forms that are clear and bright.
An example of this power is the graphic called `Life Times; how will you spend your 77.8 years?'.(See user images) I was already really familiar with the statistics of the time the average person spends watching television but when I SAW the relative size of that circle, I stopped watching television that same day and have hardly watched since.
The choice of information that this book works through also functions as a fascinating insight into the author working to make sense of the world he lives in.
The cases where the graphics do not work very well are where the information has not been truly `translated' from numbers to visuals; rather picture icons have been stuck onto standard graphs.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most fun with any book in a long, long time! March 23 2012
By Allen_TX_Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Got this in my Reading Room. Great, great book. Full of fun, thought-provoking graphics.
Some of my favorites:

p.100 - Moral Matrix - I choose to be "Modern - New Age"
p.242 - Making a Book - This seems _very_ similar to my company's software development programs
p.156 - Types of Coffee - Why can't Starbucks make me a Granita con Panna ?
p.151 - Body By - HaHaHa!!
p.134 - Dangers of Death - I'm still trying to map this onto my activities list

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Pics, Okay Data Sept. 4 2011
By Taodanfu - Published on Amazon.com
This book is really cool and it opens your mind up to new possibilities for presenting information in dynamic ways. Not only was it an interesting read, I think I'll actually incorporate the presentation styles into presentations I do for work. The only complaint I had was that a lot of the data was pretty sketchy at best. If you read the footnotes about where financial and environmental data was derived from, you'll see that, in several cases, it might not stand up to scrutiny.
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