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Information is Beautiful Hardcover – January 1, 2000
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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.
Great book for someone who is curious and fascinated with the living world around them.
Top international reviews
The most serious fault that I can level at McCandless's "Information is Beautiful" is that is has almost single handedly given rise to the infographic obsession that means that you can hardly go online without encountering some designer's view of information that is all style and little substance. However, returning to McCandless's book shows how, when done with thought and insight, the graphic can add to the reader's understanding of the data. The book is one part modern art, one part geek-porn and several parts graphic design. It's not only interesting, but is indeed as beautiful as the title promises it to be.
When the book was first published, in 2009, many of the designs were seldom used - not most of them will be familiar and that threatens to minimise the importance of the book in the history of infographic design. Rather like HDR photography, a badly thought out infographic is dull and a bit cliche now, but when done properly, they really do get the message over. A picture is said to paint a thousand words, but a well-designed infographic can get over more than that. And this is full of them.
McCandless is good at sourcing the data. One slight concern though is that there is a fair bit that is sourced from Wikipedia - which is seldom the most reliable of sources on anything. With that caveat, this book is a modern design classic. It's beautiful, interesting, clever and thoughtful.
Some of them look 'pretty' but actually convey little information, or make the reader work hard for the insight, or generate confusion and ambiguity. Often unnecessarily.
So: treat it as a book of source material to discuss and consider and analyses, and you'll be absolutely fine. Treat it as a holy gospel handed down by the almightly via his representative on earth, and you - and your readership - will suffer.
My working environment is characterised by massive spreadsheets where the prize seems to be to hide the information you need in a morass of data that you don't - what this book does is show that just because you have a lot of data in order to make sense of it you don't have to display all of it (never mind the quality feel the width approach) For example on Page 218 there is a display of whole has the worlds's oil - and who will have it in 2020 - now, instead of a big table you get a bubble diagram showing the relative sizes - and the point just leaps off the page that the Middle East will have a GREATER share of the world's oil in 2020 that it does today - now thats information and NOT data - one for the policy makers to mull over ?
And the book is full of them
Then try the one on Page 158/9 on Carbon production - again a table, even or ordered one does not give you the full difference - but put a picture on it and you see that the airline industry produces a huge amount
This book shows you many ways to present data - not all of them work for me - but oh it makes it more interesting that yet another line or bar graph - now if we could just use this in the civil service ..
I bought it hoping to take some inspiration from the design exhibited and the innovation of the information-conveyance techniques. I was again disappointed as there isn't really anything here you haven't seen before. So, this would probably make a decent coffee table book, that is, if your guests are the sort of people who would presume to flick through a book with such a title. I know most people wouldn't be interested, judging by the cover.
I highly recommend this book especially to graphic designers who are looking for creative ideas with visual datas and diagrams. This is definitely worth purchasing and adding to your collection.
I write a lot of presentations often full of data so keeping them fresh and engaging can be hard - this book is chock full of ideas and sits beside my desk so its handy when inspiration is needed.
My kids like random interesting facts - its perfect for framing questions and visualising the answers.
One of the best "work books" I've bought in ages.
After my tutor spoke about this book for the 10000000th time I thought it was about time that I invested, I ordered last night and it arrived this morning (Amazon Prime Free Trial) so I am really chuffed!
Another great thing about this book is the price, you can't get many decent design books for £12.00 so, I'd definitely make the investment! It also is image based so, there's not mass amounts of block text that you have to sieve your way through to find what you want, it's just image after image, which I find is more inspiring and it keeps me interested.