Monday, December 19, 2022

The joy of infographics and the value of subjectivity

Nigel Holmes's Joyful Infographics is the first book I've edited for CRC Press's AK Peters Visualization Series, that I co-lead with Tamara Munzner. The second is Jen Christiansen's Building Science Graphics. Both begin shipping tomorrow, December 20th.

I met Jen and Nigel nearly two decades ago at the Malofiej conference —which, by the way, will return sooner than you think. There they were, two people whose work I had admired and tried to emulate for years, willing to talk to nobodies like me, offering feedback, advice, and encouragement.

As a beginner at the time, I was surprised by their friendliness and kindness, virtues that also permeate their writing. Reading these books is akin to sharing time with two patient, serious, but humorous mentors who have distilled lessons from their long careers for the rest of us to learn and enjoy.

I'm a bit tired of books that adopt a view from nowhereor that claim to lay out overarching principles of visualization design. This includes some of my own. I'm much more interested in individual authors, in their personal but well reasoned opinions, and in how they tackle the challenges we all face when designing visualizations.

Jen's and Nigel's books are like that. They don't pretend to be the book about joy in visualization or the book about science graphics. They are Nigel's take on gentle humor and joy in visualization and Jen's take on how to build science graphics. There's value in such subjectivity, I believe.

(If you have an idea for a book about anything related to information design or data visualization, let me or Tamara know. We're happy to chat.)