Top positive review
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A comprehensive look at an important field
on September 9, 2012
In The Functional Art, Alberto Cairo has written one of the most comprehensive books on information design that I have ever seen. He starts by laying a foundation that makes the case for information graphics and visualization as a "functional art" -- that function being helping us humans make sense of the world and make more thoughtful, rational decisions. He makes the case for not only clear, minimal representations of data but also recognizes the roles that emotion, fun, perception and cognition play in our understanding of visual phenomena.
There's a fair amount of brain science in this book -- just the right amount, in my opinion, for anyone wanting to visually explore and express information and ideas. But Cairo follows the brain science with excellent practical knowledge and wisdom from the discipline of information design. With plenty of examples, case studies and interviews with expert practitioners, he manages to cover quite a lot of ground, from newspapers to magazines to academia and more. He also tackles the emerging and important area of interactive explanation, covering topics like how we perceive motion, the role of feedback and more.
Full-color illustrations throughout are to be expected in a book of this kind, and there is an ample supply of them. But in addition, the book comes with a DVD-based video course.
All in all this is an excellent overview of a topic that will only become more relevant and important in the coming years.