February 2010

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the Worlds Most Consequential Trivia

Collins Design

  • 10 East 53rd Street
  • New York , NY

212. 207.7000

What do carbon emissions, dictators' wives, and rock music genres have in common? They are all examples of the variety of statistical data illustrated in David McCandless' new book abc The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia. xyz

In this era of information and data overload, many turn to information visualization techniques to express complicated data structures and comparisons. Statistics expressed in images can offer immediate understanding and interpretation. Which is easier - reading row after row of numbers and percentages and attempting to interpret their meaning, or glancing at a bar graph or pie chart?

McCandless, a self-proclaimed independent visual and data journalist, designs the highly-visual blog Information is Beautiful. In abc The Visual Miscellaneum xyz , he continues the work started in the blog with a variety of data, from the U.S. national debt, to death and disease rates, to a decade span of “in” colors for women’s fashion, and translates them all into easy-to-interpret charts, graphs, and other illustrations. But his cutting-edge images are more than just an easy way to see that you're more likely to die from a lightning strike than swine flu-they also demonstrate inspirational examples translatable to all types of visual design, from posters to print ads, newspapers, television, and websites. McCandless believes that visual information can help people “understand the world, cut through B.S. and reveal hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath.” Artists, graphic designers, and information architects can all benefit from his innovative visualizations.

When life is going by at a busy breakneck pace and most of us no longer have the time for in-depth reading and analysis, we turn to other ways and methods of finding the information we seek. Condensing complex statistical and comparative data into easy-to-read, instantly understandable, and aesthetically attractive visual images is a science and an art. With information visualizations like the ones in abc The Visual Miscellaneum xyz , a picture really can speak a thousand words.

Reviewer: Rachel Clarke, FIDM Library Staff Member