Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Visual Miscellaneum by David McCandless

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia by David McCandless

We are tasked with absorbing tremendous amounts of information, statistics, facts, and it's a challenge to just sort this data, let alone use the data in any meaningful way. With this in mind, David McCandless set out to create functional and beautiful graphics to help us sort through the deluge and to show us that information is not only useful, but it can be beautiful as well.

I've been meaning to pick this book up for ages, ever since I had one of those NPR driveway moments when I caught an interview with McCandless. I tend towards the list and chart of the Excel variety myself, so I was eager to get a look at what something with actual design sensibilities could do.

I have to admit that my teacher senses were working overtime when I saw this book -- it would be such a cool way to introduce evaluating data to a composition class -- McCandless presents most of the information without comment, but really, it's just a darn cool book.

You can sample some of the graphics from the book's website Information is Beautiful. My favorite graphics in the book are health related. You should definitely check out the graphic about the odds on what will kill you -- trot out to a nervous seat mate on your next flight that the odds they will die in a plane crash is practically nothing, while the odds that they will die from heart disease is 1 in 3 -- and hope that the pilot isn't up for that 1 in 3. Well, maybe you are not a jerk and won't mention that bit about the pilot.

To give you a sample, here is a chart of Twentieth Century Death (my new band name, btw). It shows you how many people have died from selected major causes.

20th Century Death!
Lest you think it's all doom and gloom, there are also graphics about the lamest Wikipedia edit wars or the peak break-up times on Facebook.

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