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Visual Aid: Stuff You've Forgotten, Things You Never Thought You Knew, and Lessons You Didn't Quite Get Around to Learning Paperback – Bargain Price, October 7, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Essentially a visual Google for those who like their general knowledge in picture format... Visual Aid is capable of entertaining a wide audience' Varoom Magazine Featured in the Financial Times and Page Magazine in Germany. 'It's broad enough for kids but smart enough for adults' I Like Blog 'The designers I work with at Wired are smart and accomplished and, therefore, difficult to impress. When I showed one of them this book, he smiled and gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up' Cool Tools --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog Publishing (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906155488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906155483
  • ASIN: B0057DA9P6
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,328,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith Jackson on November 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of graphical design. And this book could have been pretty good. I can't help but be impressed with an effort to capture an explanation of the Big Bang on one small page, using less than 50 words. Unfortunately, the book is full of factual errors. That ruins the entire book because none of it can be trusted. Here are a few examples:
- There are 36 inches in a yard. The book says there are 48 inches in a yard. On the same page it shows a meter being equal to more than 50 inches. A meter is 39.37 inches.
- Gravity is a force that acts straight down. The "How Aeroplanes Fly" page shows gravity pulling the airplane down AND FORWARD because the plane is pitched up (as if taking off). And the airflow diagram shows the air separating off the bottom of the wing and heading straight down. It actually flows around the wing.
- NASA says submarines can dive to about 900 meters. One article I found says the best of the US submarines, the Seawolf, has a crush depth of 2400 feet (730 meters). The book says submarines can dive to 2400 meters. The "2400" coincidence makes it seem like someone didn't understand the difference between feet and meters. As a result, the graphic is scaled incorrectly by a factor of about 3.
- There are 16 fluid ounces in a pint. The book shows it as 20. Or maybe 19, with a generous reading of the graphic. And there are 33.8 ounces in a liter. The graphic shows more than 35.

Then, there might be some cool information on pages like "Proportions of a Human Face," but the graphics are poorly executed so I can't tell what's what, despite careful study. There's a page of Smilies like :-) but without any explanation. I might like to expand my repetoire, but I don't know what many of them imply.
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Format: Paperback
The premise behind this small book is extremely appealing: to graphically convey information on a wide range of topics, presumably on the basis that `a picture is worth a thousand words '.

Sadly, the result is disastrous:
* the graphics range from poor to very poor;
* there is no apparent organization in the positioning of the various thematic pages; one goes for instance sequentially from tall trees to wood joints to the human skeleton;
* there is no index and pages are not numbered;
* there is not a chance at being remotely comprehensive and the editorial choices made are unjustified; why a page on the rivers of South America and of no other continent?
* some information is plainly wrong, France and the UK appearing for example in the same time zone.

Except perhaps as a tool to challenge friends at a party, this publication is a complete waste of time and money.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great idea for a book, and I really enjoy it. For the most part its exactly what I thought it was going to be. However, the closer I examined the illustrations (vector images) I saw some disappointing, sloppy work. Certain things just look rushed, or not well thought out. Lastly, the binding of the book is already falling apart! I've only had the thing for a few weeks, and have only looked through about 10 times or so. All in all, I recommend this book. Its a great concept for a book, and some of the content and illustrations are great! Although its not perfect. I feel as though I got my moneys worth.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for a good visual reference book, but this is more of a toy book. The depth of information is very shallow and sometimes unfathomable. The are several obvious errors in the data presented. Even the physical size of the book is child-like and disappointing. Worth a couple of bucks maybe, but not much more. Wish I had read the reviews before buying it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and well-executed book that is a delight to browse through; it has its limitations, however. The basic object is to provide comparative information across a range of examples of different entities of many different types, in an attractive and easily-graspable visual style. Each page or two-page spread provides a colorful overview of some category or phenomenon, represented in simplified form, employing arresting and thought-provoking graphics displays to convey basic information about that thing. Typical spreads include: silhouette pictures of various examples of a particular category (dinosaurs, rockets, airplanes, etc.), drawn to scale to illustrate relative size; simple bar charts of some phenomenon, labeled with pictures, that rank each example according to some measurable quantity; flow diagrams (of the blood, rivers, transit systems, etc.) illustrated with colored paths and arrows; and in some cases just pictures with labels. The graphics are simple, brightly-colored, and charming.

The range of topics covered is broad and somewhat quirky; the book is engaging and amusing to browse through. The emphasis seems to be on science and nature, but there are many other types of entries included.

However, it does not really work as either a non-fiction text or a reference book. The information categories illustrated are disjointed, widely various, and not systematically organized. Also, each entry, though fascinating in its own way, actually conveys very little information. Typically, each entry is organized around one particular facet of the entities profiled - size, weight, height, etc.
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