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Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information Paperback – 1 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; Reprint edition (1 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616892196
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616892197
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 1.9 x 26.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Visual Complexity is a showcase for the intersection of art, design and science... Some of the examples are indeed silly. Some are profound. Many are decidedly beautiful. And all are fascinating, given the infinite kinds of data that can be visualized." --New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Nominated by Creativity magazine as "one of the 50 most creative and influential minds of 2009," Manuel Lima is an interaction designer, researcher and founder of, a comprehensive repository of complex network visualisations. He is a graduate of the Technical University of Lisbon (BA) and Parsons School of Design (MFA). He also writes and frequently speaks on the topic of information visualisation.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don’t we love a brilliant book? What is it that makes a book brilliant? Has it something to do with the combination of pleasure or fascination in the reading and finishing it with a transformed view of the world? This can be equally true of both fiction and non-fiction, and this is one such book. Fantastically illustrated, well-informed, inclusive in scope, focused in delivery, clear and provocative.

Lima is a relatively recent graduate of Parsons School of Design (2005). He became interested in the blogosphere as “an extraordinary laboratory to track and analyse how trends, ideas and information travel through different online social groups.” In following this up with an MFA thesis, he became interested in understanding structures, and in particular the network. This includes the relationship between network and tree forms, as well as the differences between them. He developed a website, Visual, which acquired hundreds of projects representing a map of maps. This book draws on this background, exploring in the process not only the structured nature of the world but the structured nature of thinking, which reflect each other. Computing is of course central to the practice described in the book, but the computing reflects human design.

The world as we know it is the world as we (choose) to know it. When we start to see the world differently we see a different world. Whether we see the world through visualisation (such as a work of art or a network diagram or a model or a bar chart), imagination or direct seeing (in which a structured order or Gestalt is always implicit in the seeing and what is seen), there is always an ordering activity.
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By gimenix on 13 April 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Print quality doesn't seem to be as good as the hardback edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Great Prelude to Lima's Trees Book 15 Mar. 2014
By Let's Compare Options Preptorial - Published on
Format: Paperback
This first in Lima's series on graphic networking information presentation, wonderfully sets the stage for his next blockbuster-- his trees book you can see here: The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge.

The classic in this field is by Tufte: Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Unlike Visual Complexity, Tufte gives detailed explanations of the creation and meaning of his visualizations.

Lima has been praised and panned for the hardcover version of this book. The pans cite too many pictures and too little words, the praise cites the same thing! So, before you invest, two things:

1. Use the generous Amazon/ publisher look inside feature. Authors and publishers who allow this want satisfied readers and I applaud them!

2. If you're into presentation, art and think like a digital artist, this book is for you. If you're an excel/ table/ linear algebra/matrix type, you'll find this wanting.

In other words, if you are looking for interesting depictions, rather than details of how they got there or what they mean, this is well worth your investment.

I have an advance copy of trees, and Manuel/Princeton listened to the past reviews and added a lot more information, both current and Lima's traditional historic, on not just the graphic what, but the how and why. It is still not a "how to" manual (you'd be better off getting a combinatorics programming or Excel graphics book for that!) but gives both artists and presenters another great encyclopedia. Tufte (above) on the other hand, gives both good AND bad examples-- showing how NOT to present your data.

As a programmer, I obviously am into presentation and trees with completely different motives-- data structures and how they interact with alogrithmic solutions. Even if you're into the nuts and bolts of big data like I am, you'll still enjoy this by superimposing your own solutions on the graphics here and in trees. It also will help you with your users, who as I'm sure you know, will come to you with presentation questions as well. There even is a "big data" CEO job popping up paying high 6 and a lot of stock-- the "CDSO" or "Chief Data Science Officer." As a library science type, I hope this trend continues for all my cyber librarian friends-- go for it, and dust off that XML tome!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic work - and a recommendation 19 May 2015
By Todd Medema - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to improve your ability to analyze and visualize data, this is an excellent book to read.

If you're looking for click-by-click advice on how to make your next PowerPoint prettier, you might get frustrated by this book. But if you're interested in making your graphs more information-rich and analysis-friendly, you've come to the right place.

If you're interested in this book, I also highly recommend Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte -

Lima's book is in many ways a modern counterpart to Tufte's, discussing analysis and visualization in a world of networks and big data. While both are fantastic reads for the data nut, I still believe that Tufte's is more useful for someone looking to get a first crash course at understanding data.

I hope you found this helpful!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful book by a fascinating person 7 April 2014
By Jill R Deramus - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Manuel Lima gave a lecture over this book at TCU last week, and I was sold. It really is beautiful to look at and has been a fascinating read thus far.
... presented here are mostly incomprehensible to those without a good background in the data being graphed 3 Mar. 2015
By Dan Eaves - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The visual representations of complex data presented here are mostly incomprehensible to those without a good background in the data being graphed. Trends are indeed more visible, but visual confusion over what is really being represented overwhelms me. Many of the representations are beautiful regardless of what they are intended to demonstrate. Framed and on the wall many would be beautiful as object while meaningless as information. Graphing using 3D printers seems at the moment the only was to reduce the confusion. Comprehensive data isn't necessarily comprehensible data.
Love it so much I hug it sometimes 30 Dec. 2014
By TrickieTrey - Published on
Format: Paperback
I received this book for Christmas and it has yet to make it to the book shelf. The photos are visually stunning and the information is well written and easy to digest. Love it!
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