13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Page 128 of this book is devoted to the different types of graphics used in diagrams, forty are named with a little graphic of each (pie chart; bar chart; word cloud etc and one called 'Dunno what to call it' chart) and I thought it would have been useful to run this page at the front of the book so that readers could try and identify what type of graphic was used on each page.
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 typed list.
Shame about the missing text that everyone has mentioned. 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 quickly 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.
119 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2010
I wanted this book from the day I read about it, but waited until the printing errors were sorted out. Amazon haven't really highlighted the publishers note that says this is now on to the third reprint, and is therefore error free. So I now have a copy. And it was worth the 6 month wait.
This really is beautiful. The way some of the figures are presented is brilliantly original, and really fires the imagination for how information could be better presented. And I was surprised at some practical pages as well - eg salad dressing recipes, with quantities represented visually.
This is one of those books that will sit in the book case and be dipped into every now and again for inspiration. Enjoy it.
119 of 129 people found the following review helpful
Author David McCandless deserves full marks for concept, design, and content of this book. It is indeed a beautiful and endlessly fascinating book that presents all sort of information from the profound to the trivial in a highly accessible way. It is the sort of thing that is ideal to dip into at random and know you are bound to come away with some new bit of knowledge, and I have no doubt our copy will end up very well-thumbed indeed.
So why the low marks? Those are for the publishers alone. A substantial number of the graphics here are missing the text that turns them from an abstract image into information. Some graphics seem to disappear off the edge of the page, others have a title but no legend to help decipher the image, graphs may show a legend for only one axis and leave the reader to guess the other. Frustratingly, the author's own website reveals that these errors were noticed in the American edition and he attempted to correct them before the British edition was printed, however the publishers opted to just publish the same book, errors and all.
This should be a stunning book with broad appeal, however in its present state I cannot honestly recommend paying for a copy.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2013
So the information contained in this book is fascinating, educational & ultimately beautifully presented.
However, there still seems to be errors:
1) A portion of the graphics are missing at the seam when they cover two pages. For example, page 166/167 features illegible text where the pages meet. 230/231 is also mis-matched. It's strange because it seems care has been taken to prevent this for some pages and yet not others.
2) On page 219 for 'The Future of Energy' there are text labels missing for the Geothermal & Hydroelectric images.
These errors have been noticed within 10 minutes of reading so I imagine there may be other examples too.
A real shame when the whole purpose of infographics is to present information beautifully and clearly. It taints the brilliance of this book. Would have been 5 stars otherwise.
Fingers crossed a new edition will appear that is completely correct!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2013
I've been a big fan of Information is Beautiful since the start. I still am a big fan. I bought this book a few years ago and have just re-opened it since. I was a bit disappointed with it initially.
It is full of great stuff but also full of not so great stuff. This lets it down.
Too many items miss the whole point of data visualisations/infographics - a picture paints a thousand words. A visualisation should be easy to understand, or understand without adding too much text, otherwise just have the text. Too many you would just look and go 'what the...I have no idea what this is trying to represent'
"The one machine" on page 90 is just awful. A table of data would have sufficed here. "Three's a magic number" on page 36 is just nonsense. There is no data to visualise here it is just a drawing, and not very interesting at that.
Data visualisation can have artistic qualities but should not be art itself because that is art.
Definitely buy the book. It is just a shame McCandless didn't take a less is more approach.
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
That there are printing mistakes in this book is a crying shame. For a book that will rise or fall on the veracity of its data, to have twelve pages with the data missing is more than unfortunate. That this UK addition has the same mistakes as an earlier American edition, seems like commercial suicide. What were Collins thinking? I feel for David McCandless, as this book has clearly been a labour of love.
That said, 'Information is Beautiful' is a brilliant book. If the twelve messed up pages were completely absent, it would still be a brilliant book. So even though you feel like you are being cheated, you're not. The other 244 pages are a feast for the eyes, and are well worth parting you from your cash. The US version is in its second edition, so if you want it to be perfect, maybe you could wait for the same over here? (There is an downloadable errata on 'IiB' website)
February strikes me as an odd date for the release of this book. It's exactly the sort of thing you would expect to see on the shelves in the run up to Christmas. It's Schott's Almanac on acid, made to appeal to the reader's inner geek. McCandless' mission is to take the assault of information that comes with living in the technological age, and represent it in a way that is easy to understand: Visually. He does so with aplomb - there are hundreds of facts in here, all in glorious technicolor.
There are graphs, pie charts and flow charts, fairly ordinary ways of displaying information, but there are also bubble clusters, Coxcombs and the delightfully named 'semantic polar grids', which are like candy for nerds. There is even a page displaying visual ways of displaying information. Subjects range from Creation Myths to Salad Dressings, via The Middle East. It's wonderful!
I must confess that you don't have to cut into me very far before you reach my inner geek (nerdiness is only skin deep), but I love this book. I've been flicking through it for hours much to the annoyance of my wife. This is a fine reference book (though I have no idea about the quality of the data collected), and would make an ideal gift for the geek in your life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2011
Information is Beautiful by David McCandless.
I think this will go down as one of the great, if not the greatest, coffee-table book of my generation. Information is beautiful is dedicated to the Internet and, indeed, almost every page seems to reflect a quintessentially contemporary concern or interest. The book's overarching theme seems to be that information is important because it empowers one to change the world for the better. Aimed partly at Guardian readers with similar interests and views as McCandless, the info-graphics on climate change, politics and theology will no doubt provoke a response from right-leaning readers who might not agree with the language or even the data employed by McCandless and they will no doubt cite Twain's 'There are lies, damned lies and statistics' cliché.
There are also a few errors or typos in places, for example, Judas Priest and Deep Purple are described in the Rock genre-ology as both Rock and Metal, although this may be true it seems to be a typo. And sometimes the info-graphics can be accused of over-simplifying or misconstruing information. For example, in evolutionary biology the concept of punctuated equilibrium is often portrayed by the media as antithetical or problematic for Darwinian evolution and indeed the info-graphic on this subject may be interpreted as implying as much. But, having read Richard Dawkins' 'The Blind Watchmaker', I know this is not in fact the case.
I expect that any book of info-graphics, no matter how well researched and designed, could be accused of over-simplifying complex issues which often require detailed and patient reading as well as a nuanced interpretation rather than a brief, facile and aesthetically pleasing glance. But one does not thumb through a book of info-graphics looking for comprehensive essays on complex issues. The power and usefulness of the info-graphic is its ability to present information in a dramatic and effective way.
I think there are three possible responses a reader can have to any info-graphic. Sometimes the information is already known and accepted in advance as being true by the reader and merely bolsters pre-existing beliefs or opinions, as will be the case with most Guardian readers and the climate change info-graphics. Sometimes the information in a diagram is unknown to the reader and, depending on the simplicity or complexity of the subject, the info-graphic can either form a new belief instantly or inspire one to research the topic further before doing so. For example, after finding the info-graphic on Amazonian deforestation I went on-line to see if it were true and, sadly, based on what I could find, it seems to be true and so I have formed a new opinion on this subject. Thirdly, an info-graphic may contradict a pre-existing belief. When this happens one can either deny the information altogether, dispute the reliability of the data or its interpretation or research the topic further and then, based on what one finds, either confirm or disconfirm one's prior beliefs.
My favourite info-graphics were the Rock and Dance music Genre-ologies. I have always been aware of House and Drum 'n' Bass music for example but never really appreciated what they were or where they came from. When I learned, however, that D'n'B was influenced by Dub Reggae (which I already love) it made a connexion and so now I'm listening to Goldie's seminal D'n'B album Timeless which I really like. This, I guess, is the power of the info-graphic.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2010
Whilst this book is beautifully laid out and contains some fascinating facts (Finns are the happiest people in the world, it takes 5 litres of water to make 1 litre of bottled water) I was disappointed for several reasons:
The predominant cited source seems to be Wikipedia. This is laziness for a book that celebrates the diversity of information.
Items such as Loevinger's Stages of Development or Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are mainly unembellished lists, freely available in the same format elsewhere. Why not celebrate the wondrous things that are now being done with mashups instead?
The omission of the text on a number of pages, as reported in other reviews, is inexcusable. The publisher is knowingly selling faulty goods.
I was so looking forward to this book, being a fan of McCandless's work, so it pains me to give it such a poor review.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2010
Information is Beautiful is a great book. The vast array of visualisation techniques is mind blowing, from the simple, yet wonderfully created pie chart to a number of techniques (e.g. semantic polar grids) that I had never encountered before (and I have a PhD in ecological statistics). I would recommend this to anyone interested in data visualisation / infographics who wants inspiration or wants a nice looking book that would not be out of place on any self-confessed geeks coffee table.
The fact that the book is now on its third reprint, shows how immensely popular it has been. This has also allowed for the correction of the original printing errors (publishers fault). If however you do have an early copy you can still download the correct pages direct from David's website "Information is Beautiful". A website that is constructed with the same amount of care and attention that is shown in this text and should be immediately addded to your RSS subscriptions.
Now that this text is under £10 makes this an instant purchase for any intersted party or even as a gift item. Enjoy being immersed in the beautiful display of normally impenetrable data.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2010
The problems that affected the US version of this book called 'The Visual Miscellaneum' still exist in the UK version. Pages 60-65 do not have any labels, so they just don't make any sense. Why didn't Harper Collins have this issue corrected in the UK printing? The problem has been well reported on Amazon.com and on David McCandless's blog, so they must have known. The author has posted a PDF with the correct version of the diagrams on the Information is Beautiful blog (search for 'errata'), so at least you can see what they are supposed to look like.