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Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you design graphical interfaces, get it., 30 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think (Interactive Technologies) (Paperback)
From Bob Hughes - new-media developer; author of "Dust or Magic"
This is a crucially important, uniquely valuable book, edited and partly written by three of the original architects of today's graphical computing environment. If you design graphical interfaces, get it. Everything you need to know about is either here (the original papers by the key researchers) or referenced. I couldn't find a single gap.
The introduction alone is worth the (fairly hefty) price. In just 33 pages, the authors define the entire field, its history, components, laws and methods; and show how, by applying these methods, we can arrive at far more usable and interesting solutions than we'd arrive at in the usual fumbling, grasping-at-metaphors way.
"The purpose of visualization," it says, "is insight, not pictures". Having said which, many of the visualizations are just plain beautiful - intellectually as well as visually.
The illustrations are good but not lavish (for lavish, get Edward Tufte's books, which get due acknowledgement here. You need them anyway. And if they'd gone for lavish, the book would be completely unaffordable.) We have delightful things: spiral calendars, the "hyperbolic browser" (now making a real-world impact as the InXight browser), the "InfoCrystal", the "Table Lens", information maps and landscapes, representations of all kinds, suited to needs of all kinds, always generated by clear and careful thinking.
The meat of the book - the papers - is the definitive Grand Tour through the visual "possibility space". Many of them are "ideas in waiting" that the computer-mainstream still hasn't tumbled to. It shows what a wealth of options we have, once we free ourselves from the "received wisdom" of desktop metaphors, and proceed from basics.
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Location: Bristol, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,117,837