Information Hardcover – Nov 15 2009
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'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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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