Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A book-sized cutaway infographic about Darth Vader

Anecdote: The other day I dropped by the bookstore with my 6-year-old kid. I had mentioned I would buy a book for him —each of us gets one book every week—, whichever one he chose, given that it was not crazily expensive. I was expecting him to pick one we could read together at night, something with cute piggies or bunnies. You get the idea.

Instead, he came back with the book you can see below. He watched the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time a few months ago and Darth Vader is his favorite character. When I asked him why he had chosen a book that doesn't tell a story, he answered: " But this is so cool; I can open Darth Vader's helmet and armor and see what's inside! I can even see his heart and bones!".

Sometimes I wonder why so many kids have such a fascination for entrails and the way they fit together to form structures. Some of us keep that obsession through adulthood; maybe that's why the world can count on having information graphics designers, engineers, architects, doctors (and Spanish inquisitors). Does it happen because we are hardwired for curiosity in the first place?

Those seduced by Evolutionary Psychology could suggest it was natural selection that designed us to like eviscerating stuff as an strategy to get a better understanding of our surroundings. It may be a compelling hypothesis (it's also impossible to test): in the past, those humans who felt the need to open things up and study them carefully were the ones that acquired more knowledge, which is usually related to better chances of survival and gene-spreading mating. But who knows. The fact is that the Darth Vader book-sized infographic is on our shelves now.

And I must admit my six-year old is not the one who takes a look at it more often.