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Information is Beautiful

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,170 ratings  ·  229 reviews
Facts, statistics, issues, theories, relationships, numbers, words - there is just too much information in the world. We need a brand new way to take it all in. 'Information is Beautiful' transforms the ideas surrounding and swamping us into graphs and maps that anyone can follow at a single glance. ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Collins (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,170 ratings  ·  229 reviews

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Mar 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I usually don't use the star system unless I can give four or five stars, but in this case I am making an exception in order to counter-balance the trend I see in the data about this book. Scroll through the reviews and you will see that people who know how information visualization is supposed to be done are giving this book bad reviews and only one or two stars. The enthusiastic five-star reviews are coming from folks who simply enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. Their enjoyment of w ...more
Mark Lawrence
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and beautiful book. Sadly my edition had at least a dozen major printing errors which rather detracted from the reading experience.

Still, the pictures that were complete and labelled were very interesting and well done.

There's an enormous amount of added value that a good info-graphic brings to some data. I've made various efforts in this direction in the fantasy genre, just to bring home issues of scale or popularity.

This one shows the heights of various fantasy towers relative to
Russell Ince
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Information is Beautiful by David McCandless.

I think this will go down as one of the great, if not the greatest, coffee-table book of my generation. Information is beautiful is dedicated to the Internet and, indeed, almost every page seems to reflect a quintessentially contemporary concern or interest. The book's overarching theme seems to be that information is important because it empowers one to change the world for the better. Aimed partly at Guardian readers with similar interests and views
Apr 29, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a crashing disappointment. This book, which positions itself as a showboat of creative data visualization, LOOKS great. It is initially fun to browse. But it is no fun to pay attention to, as you soon realize that almost every single item on display is marred by something. The something differs from image to image -- sometimes it's just that the information is pointless, but often the most fundamental laws of visual representation are ignored. Indeed, several images do a considerably worse ...more
Absolutely phenomenal book; full of interesting facts presented in stunning and unique ways. The only problem I found (which wasn't a content fault), was that the way the book was bound causes a lot of the content that is in the middle of the page to be unreadable. :( but other than that, fantastic! ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2016
These days we are surrounded by data, every transaction online or in a shop is recorded, processed and analysed. That data is sucked into vast databases that are then used to sell you even more stuff.

But in the hands of McCandless this vast data stream is shown in all its magnificence. He has taken the facts and numbers and made them beautiful, elegant and more importantly understandable. The range of subjects he has covered is vast too, there are maps of the internet, global spending, radiatio
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: info-vis, art
First, I question most of the data sources. Some were stated clearly enough that I understood what biases might be inherent in them, but others I would have to look up online, and I'm too lazy when I have the book right here.

Second, it's nice to see information visualization from a different viewpoint than I normally approach it. My job is to display unknown data as accurately as possible, without guessing the user's purpose or pushing an agenda. This book approaches visualization as an art. The
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: visual-art
A book with a variety of infographics, ranging from idiosyncratic details about dictators' wives, to excerpts from "searches for phrases beginning with "I want" on popular dating sites (one which includes "to make my Master happy sir" and atrocious misspellings like "meet a waman for sex and maiby more" ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I can't help but subconciously evaluate a book for factual content and question the data he chooses to display, even in a book on design, I thoroughly love this work. Too often we're left with a pie chart, a bar graph, or a table to explain all of the data in the world, and McCandless does an admirable job at tackling the dissemination of information in new and engaging ways. ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reviewing before I mark this as "read" because this is a book to dip in and out of.

David McCandless is a graphic designer who compiled (I can't quite say "wrote" - it's really more "designed") this book as a means of exploring - and demonstrating - how to make information "approachable and beautiful" by presenting it visually.

I'm not sure how *useful* the book is -- but it is beautiful.
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love it except some pages had too many words for what they were tryna do and some I couldn't understand (bc i'm stupid:)))) ) but apart from that they were all super pretty and had mostly super interesting info ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
The ultimate coffee table book for visual thinkers, it will keep you busy for hours on end.
Ralyn Longs
Pretty good, works well in monochrome. But often approached more factoid territory, and I think when looking at a small screen the visual element is not as compensating.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a disappointment! It's garbage. I am so sorry I supported it by buying it (not checking the reviews before).

Incorrect data in many places. Some nonsensical infographics. Unreliable sources. Some of the parts are nice, to be fair, but altogether I find it a shameful piece.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is, indeed, an amazing book! It shows, in infographic form, a wealth of information about our world. In cases of highly-debatable topics, such as religion and climate change, it offers a fair representation of both sides!
Dec 24, 2020 rated it liked it
There’s some interesting information and some pretty pictures in here, but the sources are frequently dubious, the organisation random, and the infographics are hit or miss.
Michael Scott
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design, art, non-fiction
TODO full review:
i Overall, David McCandless is one to watch in applied graphing.
+++ Creative, informative, artsy graphs.
+++ Personally meaningful: took lots* of notes for own projects. * 20+
+++ Excellent graphs about the progression of style (e.g., in music).
+++ Excellent radial graphs used in comparisons of complex concepts (e.g., in color interpretation by culture).
+++ Excellent graphs to present the process for creating the book, including collaborators.
+++ Excellent graphs to emphasize dat
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't so much read this book as study it. I picked up this book a few years ago because I'd heard good things about it, and went through it earlier this month. When I got it I had in mind that it might give me some ideas for custom graphics and diagrams in reports, and it did. It did more than that too.

Obviously the main reason why you display data visually is to make it quick and easy to comprehend. The many examples in this book demonstrate this very well. However, perhaps it's the vast nu
The Visual Miscellaneum book is colorful and whimsical. Certain pages definitely struck my interest more than others. Yet some of the information is disorganized, hard to read, and perplexing to interpret. Many of the pages are based on subjective perceptions of Mr. McCandless - as an example, delineating on a picture of the highest grossing films out of Hollywood a line marked "Worth Watching" where Mr. McCandless decided which films were worth viewing. Many other pages deal with political them ...more
Andrew Ives
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
(2012 edition) A very eclectic, varied kind of book, with unusual graphs and diagrams intended to better explain a variety of subjects. This it does with varying degrees of success. Some are quite brilliant in their importance and clarity (Peters Projection map, Kyoto targets), some are rather pointless on subject matter (Spiral Dynamics, The Book of Me, Interesting Colours, Map of the Internet... although it does look quite beautiful. 6 pages?!), some are more confusing as a diagram than they w ...more
An Te
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
A book with interesting infographics and in essence a book about the world order. A book not to be read but to inspire. It has been helpful to guide in the stage of presenting information to a wider audience. Nothing to inspire in visionary, ethical or religious terms, thus the star rating, but it serves its purpose to present fascinating information on a range of topic areas from musical hits to CO2 emissions.

P.S. Sure would like to speak with the author about some of his assessments. Surely, t
Nov 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ischool
Not bad, and very pretty, by McCandless is clearly a designer, not an infovis guy, and some of his visualization choices showed it. In addition to a number of visualizations that are only moderately more useful than a table of data (seriously, just showing a picture of the thing the data is about? that is not a visualization), there are a few missteps, mostly in places where the author chooses a pretty layout over one that would make more sense as a visual representation of the data. Still, very ...more
May 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Visually stunning and a few interesting things of note. Unfortunately, this book is VERY British which looses something in the translation as I am sure you will find out when reading. It also have several factual errors for a book that is this new. It also is VERY confusing and has left things out (i.e. a chart comparing diets has NO KEY to figure out WHAt they are comparing).

If you are a trivia buff like I am there are numerous books better than this one unless you can find a copy in the dollar
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like looking at graphs, learning new information or visually pleasing composition, Information is Beautiful is well worth your time. Spreads cover a multitude of topics, from the ingredients of coffee beverages to the varieties of romantic relationships to the meanings of colors to different cultures around the world. This edition was revised for 2012 so some information may be a bit dated; but it is well worth the look.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Love trivia? Gearing up for a Jeopardy session? Love miscellany facts but don't want to actually read about them? Then this book is for you! Full of miscellany facts and told in a visual and colorful format, this was truly engaging. Find out which fish are okay to eat or cures for hangovers from various parts of the world (hint, I am glad I am not Romanian!). ...more
Aug 13, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A word cloud is NOT an adequate visualization.

Many of these were convoluted visuals or based on wacky sources, attempting to provide a quick visual overview to "data". Some were quite well done -- the majority were failures in making sense of data.
Aug 29, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Should have been a short story version -- a few graphics were quite well done, but most left something to be desired (hard to interpret, no key, false information, opinion, etc).
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
the most interesting thing about this book is that a book that is 90% pictures comes off as so clearly british.
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've seen this book around for a while and finally gave into purchasing a copy. It is a new edition revised in 2012. It's got some fun facts and graphics. And some of the topics and graphics are engaging. However, despite being a new edition, it still contains glaring issues. The book doesn't put its strongest forward, and the first graphic is hard to understand. In many cases the author leaves out legends. Produces graphics that don't present data in the most intuitive manner. Uses colour schem ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, own
I like the idea and the creativity behind many of the visualizations. However, I find it a little confusing, what is their purpose. They meander between interesting visual puzzles and clear depictions that allow gaining insight into a problem by using powerful visualization. However, this meandering makes the whole book, at least to me, quite an unpleasant mishmash of impressions. This could be, still, accepted as each visualization can stand for itself. However, it is unforgivable that the prod ...more
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