Thursday, November 14, 2013

Design for information, graphics for understanding

I'm not very good at writing book reviews, so let me just say this: Get Isabel Meirelles' Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations. Robert Kosara has praised it enthusiastically. I'm not surprised. This book should be part of any infographics and visualization personal library.

Meirelles is a professor of design at Northeastern University, and her teaching experience influences her writing. This book is not only beautiful, but also informative and solidly organized. Besides, it covers areas that have been a bit neglected in other recent books —including mine,— such as network visualizations and timelines. Therefore, this is not a book about quantitative or data visualization alone, but about the representation of any kind of information by means of "structures": Hierarchical, relational, temporal, spatial, spatio-temporal, and textual. Each of them is explained in rich detail with the aid of little diagrams and pictograms.

I shot some pictures of Design for Information while I was reading it. They may give you an idea of what to expect.

A taxonomy of network displays:

Thematic map forms, inspired by MacEachren's monumental How Maps Work.

A beautiful map by Charles Joseph Minard I had never seen before:

I really loved this one, by Eadweard Muybridge: