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Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information
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Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  315 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Our ability to generate information now far exceeds our capacity to understand it. Finding patterns and making meaningful connections inside complex data networks has emerged as one of the biggest challenges of the twenty-first century. In recent years, designers, researchers, and scientists have begun employing an innovative mix of colors, symbols, graphics, algorithms, a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 17th 2011 by Princeton Architectural Press (first published July 19th 2011)
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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Wai Yip Tung
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
The subtitle of this book should be - Visualization done wrong. This book seems to be all about dumping raw data into one frame and hope to wow readers. The result, giant hairball with no discernible pattern - fail. Miniscule, unreadable and overlapping labels - fail. No legend, no description of what visual elements like color, size, weight is encoding - fail. There are over a hundred graph show cased. Most graph, often unreadable hairball, occupying a full page. It is accompany by a descriptio ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, technical
I hate to down-rate this book, because it is very well researched and well written, but I just wasn't able to be as excited about this as I have been with Edward Tufte's books, to which this one is compared by one of the blurb writers. Part of the problem is that this book deals solely with visual representations of networks - an interesting genre, I'm sure, but one that stands more in the realm or art than science unless you drill down pretty far into the details of the network analysis and the ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
If you want a coffee table book on data visualization that is heavy on aesthetics and philosophical noodling, but light on practical value, then this book is for you. There are many pretty pictures, but most of them make no sense and offer little to no insight. It seems to have a good representation of the different types of visualizations that are popular but next to no advice on why one type is better than another type for any particular purpose. Personally I would prefer less flowery delivery ...more
Jimmy Ele
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uber-favorites
Great book making for a great read replete with beautiful pictures. In short, I want it for my own library. It was the ideal companion to the complexity studies I am currently engaged in. The history of the tree being used as a visualization technique in the history of knowledge and how it is being abandoned for the network visualization technique of the nodes and links model is very enlightening. It then goes into the ubiquitous nature of the interconnected network model. The book comes stocked ...more
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Meeting the needs of global society does not require infinite economic growth but an understanding of and respect for the regenerative limits of the biosphere."

Manuel Lima is an ecological optimist, and he believes that collecting, connecting, presenting and integrating data is the key to human survival. He thinks we can overcome human selfishness and greed through visualization, through networkism--"the net has no center"--a complex open system that mimics natural processes, rather than the hi
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lima is a passionate guide to visualization. He begins with a brief history of attempts to visualize complex information (many of them religious in nature) and moves into the computer age briskly, covering a number of essential concepts regarding data and Big Data, networking, and the internet. The strongest part of the book is the section cataloging the multiple forms that new visualizations take, with examples of each and lots of references that enable one to find the live versions online (an ...more
Alexa Williams
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
While the beginning parts were relatively accessible, some of the later diagrams have so much going on that they essentially tell you nothing. They whole point of data visualization imo is to convey information, and how can you do that when the only thing presented is a mess of colored lines with little to no context?

Clearly very well researched, but I wish it was more... practical?
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent overview and research of the history and evolution of graph visualizations.
Gaetano Venezia
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book starts off strong with a history of the tree as the leading metaphor for knowledge and classification. Lima then presents the development of complexity theory and the emerging metaphor of the network.

After this introduction, the rest of the book is driven by network visualizations. While there are plenty of meaningful and provocative examples, there's a surprising lack of explanation for these new forms of visual display. Many of the visualizations are very complex and not meant for pr
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: work
Very nicely designed, glossy overview of network visualization approaches, as of a few years back. Insightful history and analysis as well as the pretty pictures. But, left me with the feeling that, with a few exceptions, plotting networks with more than a couple of dozen nodes is pointless, and that perhaps there are better ways of finding and providing insights from connectivity data. Very few of the images came with captions that said, "and thus, we learned an impactful fact", or "and thus, w ...more
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really liked the book when I first browsed through it at a tech meetup: the reason why I ordered the book later.

However, after spending more time reading the book, I found that the vivid visualizations lack practical application that I was searching for - I would say wow, this graph looks very interesting, but then I would struggle in understanding the message behind most visualizations in the book.
Stephen Weinstock
A great history and analysis of very cool maps. Not just geographical maps.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not an easy book to rate, given that it's partially a guide to understanding data visualization and partially an enthralling coffee-table-esque tome (that still needed to be carried to and from coffee shops so I could read it).
Lima writes in an engaging manner and his work in explicating what visualizations should do and are good for is well done. I could almost wish for a bit more text, actually, some of his thoughts and interpretations of the many visualizations within. Seeing him "rea
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author does a good job of tracing the history of network visualization and how cultural and scientific shifts have demanded new forms of articulation. The second half of the book forms a picture gallery broken down by theme and graph type. I found this part to be challenging - not least because of tiny type and hard to make sense of graphs. But ultimately this becomes an exercise in aesthetics because too often the methods used to come by the visualizations are just too pithy.
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book on network knowledge and visualization of complex data. He includes several chapters on the historical view of information partitioning from the 1500's to today that includes attempts at categorizing all knowledge and led to methodologies such as the Dewey Decimal system. He then spends the rest of the book on really beautiful visualizations of big data by groups that have posted there projects to his web site.
Petter Wolff
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
Ah. This was "visualization of networks" and only that (as opposed to "patterns of information" which sounds immenesly more interesting). Not what I was looking for, and from a relatively quick scan it is pretty poor material even if visually appealing. Back to Tufte it is, then.
Jun 03, 2015 added it
Damn fine
Jun 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Just read the blog!
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
not the easiest book to browse; but a good overview of how to display information. a variant and extension on tufte's thoughts.
A gorgeous book with a thoughtful history of the art/science of network visualization.
After the first chapters I felt I was encountering the same ideas only slightly restated. It did inspire me to re-read Tufte.
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A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and nominated by Creativity magazine as “one of the 50 most creative and influential minds of 2009,” Manuel Lima is the founder of, Design Lead at Google, and a regular teacher of data visualization at Parsons School of Design.

Manuel is a leading voice on information visualization and has spoken at numerous conferences, universities, and f
“The origin of the word knowledge itself is strongly tied to trees. "In the Germanic languages, most terms for learning, knowledge, wisdom, and so on are derived from the words for tree or wood," says Hageneder. "In Anglo Saxon we have witan (mind, consciousness) and witige (wisdom); in English, 'wits,' 'witch', and wizard'; and in modern German, Witz (wits, joke). These words all stem from the ancient Scandinavian root word vid, which means 'wood' (as in forest, not timber).” 0 likes
“Joachim opposed many religious dogmas and was a firm believer in a more liberal church. He envisioned a new age in which mankind would reach total freedom and the hierarchy of the Church would become unnecessary under the rule of the Order of the Just, an alliance between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.” 0 likes
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